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Karnataka’s energy isolation set to end

According to reports, there is some good news on the energy front for Karnataka. People of the state are likely to get respite from the erratic and endless power cuts this summer. The reason: A crucial project, that is slated to end the energy drought, is likely to be commissioned in March.

Power outages have made life difficult due to their ripple effect by disrupting schedules and aggravating drinking water supply problems. The state’s inability to draw the contracted amount of power from the northern grid and surplus power from the western region played a prominent role in the man-made energy crisis.

But a long-awaited project to connect the southern grid with the national network is getting closer to becoming a reality. This will make it easier to draw power from the northern grid and the western region. According to officials of Karnataka State Power Corporation, work on the 800-kV circuit between Raichur in Karnataka and Solapur in Maharashtra is nearing completion.

“We have cleared as many as eight hurdles dogging the project. Another four remain and we are expediting work to clear them by February and ensure the commissioning of the project in March,” confirmed Amitha Prasad, principal secretary, energy department.

Absence of inter-connectivity also resulted in the state paying through its nose to purchase power. The rate at which power was offered was nearly four times the rate at which others got it.

For instance, the average and maximum price Karnataka paid for power purchase was between Rs 7 and Rs 18 per MW respectively while it varied between Rs 3 and Rs 5 per MW for the northern states. “Now there will be a softening of prices,” said a senior official of the corporation.

The country has five regional grids but four were linked to form the North-East-West grid or NEW. Only the southern region remained isolated. In 2012, the Power Grid Corporation of India started building a high voltage (765kV) line between Solapur and Raichur.

The linking of the southern grid with the rest of the country will also help wind power generation in a big way.

Half of country’s wind power capacity, of 20,000MW, lies in the four southern states. Karnataka alone produces around 2,000MW of wind energy while Tamil Nadu produces about 7,000MW. But due to lack of sufficient transmission lines, the windmills are asked to ‘back down’ and a sizeable amount of electricity that could potentially be generated is lost.

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