State govt orders probe into Tuesday’s power outage

| Mumbai | Published: September 4, 2014 1:19 am
Tata Power CEO Anil Sardana at a press meet Wednesday. He said they could not bring power from outside in emergency due to constrained transmission lines. Tata Power CEO Anil Sardana at a press meet Wednesday. He said they could not bring power from outside in emergency due to constrained transmission lines.

Following a power outage in most of the island city and a few suburbs Tuesday, the state government has ordered an inquiry to fix the responsibility and suggest short-term and long-term measures to avoid a recurrence.

The principal secretary of the energy department has been asked to conduct the inquiry and submit a report in seven days. “The government has ordered the inquiry to look into why the power outage happened. We will know the exact cause only once the inquiry has been conducted,” energy secretary Ajoy Mehta said.

Guardian ministers for Mumbai city and suburbs, Jayant Patil and Naseem Khan, had raised the issue in the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Khan said such an outage had never been witnessed before and that there was a need to look into what caused it and ensure there was no recurrence. The cabinet unanimously supported this following which the CM ordered the probe.

A power generating unit, unit number 5, at Tata Power Company’s Trombay power plant tripped Tuesday morning due to a technical snag, causing a shortage of 500 megawatt in the system. There was a power outage in several parts of the city as distribution companies resorted to load-shedding since they could not import power from outside Mumbai to stem the shortfall due to constrained transmission lines.

Anil Sardana, chief executive officer and managing director at Tata Power, said, “We quickly made up for the partial load from hydro sources and could bridge the gap of about 200 megawatt. But there was still a shortage of 300 megawatt, which could have easily come from outside. But to our surprise, the transmission system could not carry any extra power.”

Sardana said Mumbai would always be constrained on the transmission system as it is land-locked. He said the conversion of its unit number 6, which currently runs on oil, to coal will help in boosting generation. The unit had been kept as a standby as the cost of oil-based production is very expensive at Rs 12-13 per unit and the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) undertaking has said it does not want to purchase the power at such a high cost.

Tata Power ultimately initialised this unit, which has a capacity of 500 megawatt and runs on oil, to start generating electricity. The power supply ws back in the city by Tuesday night. Meanwhile, the affected unit number 5 was expected to be restored by Wednesday night.

The BEST, which purchases energy from Tata Power and distributes it in the island city, said it would write to the power regulator, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Board, to look into the incident and take a decision on who should pay for the expensive power generated from the oil-based unit number 6. The undertaking also alleged there was misdistribution of power on Tuesday.

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