According to reports, the long-awaited Kayathar-Chennai transmission line, meant to exclusively transmit renewable power from the largest wind belt in Tamil Nadu, is likely to be commissioned by the end of this month, sources close to the state electricity utility Tangedco said. More power — up to 1,500 MW — from windmills in that region could be moved to consumption centres like Chennai, where consequently, there could be less power cuts. The Khayathar region is one of the four major wind power pockets in the state (others being Aralvaimozhi, Andipatti, Palghat).
“With this line coming up, this is the region in the state that could potentially see new wind capacity additions in the state as there will be assured transmission infrastructure,” said K Venkatachalam, chief advisor of TASMA (Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association) which owns the largest chunk of windmills in the state. This line and another high-capacity transmission line between Theni and Salem districts are two “green corridor” projects meant exclusively for renewable energy, connecting the southern and northern parts of Tamil Nadu.
However, the commissioning of the Kayathar-Chennai line does not solve all the problems that the wind power industry faces. Sources say Tangedco could continue to shut down windmills this year as wind power fluctuates. “The problem is not just lack of infrastructure. The state has capacity to evacuate about 4,000MW of wind power and this new line will add to the existing capacity, but the issue with wind power is that it fluctuates, not lack of evacuation infrastructure,” the source said. This, combined with irregular payment of money by Tangedco to power producers, withdrawal of accelerated depreciation scheme (which allows companies to write off most of the project cost as depreciation during the first year and save taxes) by the Centre caused capacity addition in TN to fall to 113MW in 2013-14 compared with about 1,100MW in 2011-12.