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Transmission issues plague power-starved southern states

According to reports, the much-talked-about synchronization of the southern power grid to the national grid has not benefited Tamil Nadu and Kerala for power purchase from other states. Lack of proper transmission infrastructure continues to hinder smooth supply of power.

Demand for short-term power purchase usually increases during summer, and with the mercury soaring, power purchase across different states on the Indian Energy Exchange this June shot up 11% compared with last year, while the South remained power starved.

“There is almost zero transmission infrastructure available for Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Even if power from rest of the country reaches the south, there are no power corridors between Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka and Tamil Nadu-Kerala,” said Rajesh Mediratta, Senior VP-Business Development, India Energy Exchange (IEX), an energy trading platform.

“Delayed arrival of monsoon and soaring temperatures led to significant increase in volumes traded in the spot power market at IEX in June 2014. Overall, the Exchange traded a total of 2.6 billion units in June, 11% higher over 2.3 billion units traded in the previous month,” a statement from IEX said. “Transmission congestion was still persistent and continued to hamper trade about 258 million units were curtailed in June due to non-availability of inter-state transmission corridor. Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the worst affected,” the statement said.

Tamil Nadu has been reeling under severe power cuts with many parts of the state facing over 12 hours of scheduled power cuts, leading several industries to shut shop. The government in May announced the withdrawal of scheduled power cuts effective June 2014, but power shortage continues in the state as many regions still complain of power cuts.

Until last year, IEX saw some demand from southern states, but this year, flow of power from the Eastern and Western regions to South remained constrained 100% of the time, Mediratta said.

All transmission lines available were booked for long-term or medium-term power purchase between power generators and industries, and no power corridors were available this year for short term purchase when demand spikes during summer.

While the commissioning of a transmission line between Raichur and Sholapur on June 30 has given southern states some hope as it would mean better connectivity with other states, smaller transmission lines at each end of the line is necessary to transmit power to power starved regions.

“The line is definitely useful for Tamil Nadu as it would mean connectivity to regions with surplus power. It is estimated that the state could be benefited to the extent of about 1000 MW. However, for power generators in Tamil Nadu to sell excess power from the plant to other parts of the state, the lines aren’t sufficient,” said K Venkatachalam, chief advisor of Tamil Nadu Spinnig Mills Association, which is a group of large HT power consumers and wind power generators in Tamil Nadu.

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