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Power surplus Northeast capable of supplying energy to other states

According to reports, power-surplus northeastern India is unable to supply power to the energy-starved states for want of adequate transmission lines, experts here said.

“The current peak-hour demand of electricity in the seven northeastern states is 2,200 to 2,300 MW (megawatt). Now, the shortage of power during peak hour is around 100 MW but during off-peak-hour it is surplus by over 300 MW,” energy expert Sudhindra Kumar Dube told IANS.

He said that the industry-famished northeastern region of India would be a power surplus area even during peak-hour (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) by June when the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC’s) 726 MW power project in southern Tripura starts full capacity generation.

“Due to inadequate capacity of transmission lines between the northeastern region and the rest of India, the surplus power could not be transmitted to other parts of the country,” said Dube, who is managing director of ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC).

The state-owned ONGC, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) and the Tripura government jointly floated ONGC Tripura Power Company limited (OTPC) to set up the Rs.10,000-crore Palatana power plant in southern Tripura.

The 726 MW capacity combined cycle power project is the first commercial power project of ONGC, which found huge gas reserves in Tripura. The first unit of the Palatana power project was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee June 21 last year.

Dube said that to remove the power transmission logjam, the state-run Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) has been raising High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines from Biswanath Chariyalli in Guwahati to Agra in Uttar Pradesh.

“The under construction power transmission corridor would be commissioned by this year-end or next year. After that, the problems of evacuation of power from the northeast to the national grid would be sorted out considerably,” said the power engineer.

In a significant development, the southern grid connectivity was commissioned Dec 31 last year after the building of the 765 KV Raichur (Karnataka)-Sholapur (southern Maharashtra) power transmission line resolving a decades-old problem of power transmission in southern Indian states.

Dube said that to move power from the Palatana power project a 400 KV high transmission double circuit power line (661 km) is being drawn up to Silchar in southern Assam from Palatana at a cost of Rs.2,200 crore to connect with the Bongaigaon national grid to distribute electricity to various northeastern states.

But it would take some more months to complete the transmission lines up to the Bongaigaon national grid in western Assam.

“Northeastern India could be a power house of India, but inadequate transmission lines are the major impediment to evacuate the power from the region to other parts of the country,” he pointed out.

State-run North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) is also executing several power projects in different states of the northeastern region, which shares borders with China, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

“Many hydel and thermal power projects are now at various stages of commissioning… Completion of the under commissioning and planned projects in different northeastern states would generate over 6,000 MW in the region,” NEEPCO chairman and managing director (CMD) P.C. Pankaj told IANS.

The hydro-power potential of the northeastern region is estimated at 58,971 MW, which is almost 40 percent of the country’s total hydro potential, but only less than two percent (1,200 MW) has been exploited till early this year.

NEEPCO also plans to generate at least 1,500 MW power from non-conventional sources of energy such as solar and wind power in the next five years.

With a population of 45.50 million in the northeastern region, the per capita electricity consumption in the region is 257.98 kilowatt hour (kWh) against the national average of 778.71 kWh.

According to an official document, 19 power projects, including twelve 3,918 MW capacity hydel power projects and four thermal power projects with an installed capacity of 5,595 MW, are now in various stages of commissioning and planning in the northeastern region by different organisations, including NEEPCO.

NEEPCO currently operates five hydro and two thermal power plants across the northeastern region with a total installed capacity of 1,130 MW.

The power plants would be set up in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura.

Three power projects totaling 1,344 MW would also be commissioned by private organisations in Arunachal Pradesh.

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