December 12, 2014 2:15:30 am
The power crisis faced by the country’s southern region on account of transmission constraints bottling up electricity flows to the region is unlikely to be mitigated anytime soon.
A set of three new transmission corridors that were approved by the government’s Empowered Committee on Transmission in September this year to facilitate additional power flows to the south have not yet been notified for implementation by the Central Electricity Authority — the nodal authority.
As a result of the delay in notification, the bidding process for these three new corridors has not commenced yet, government officials involved in the exercise said. The three new corridors are aimed at enhancing the power importing capacity of the southern region by 12,000 MW.
As a result of the transmission constraints faced by the southern region, despite the country’s overall peaking shortage — defined as shortfall in generation capacity during the time when the electricity consumption is at the maximum — has come down, the shortage in the south is increasing and is headed for the worst situation in five years.
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This is despite the synchronous interconnection of the southern grid with the rest of the National Power Grid in January. In 2014-15, the peaking shortage of the south is projected to be 9,254 MW against all India shortage of 3,027 MW (which is lower due to a surplus in the western region), according to the Load Generation Balance Report for 2014-15 released by Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
The extent of the peaking shortages in the south offer an indication of the precarious power situation for a region that is a key industrial and manufacturing hub and where consumers, by and large, can pay higher tariffs for power.
Experts feel that even the 9,254 MW could be an underestimate and the chronic shortage have badly stymied industrial growth in the region over the last couple of years.
Power flows to the deficit south have been restricted to 3,500-4,000 MW for the last five years due to transmission constraints, which have built up as a result of delays in over a dozen key transmission lines that were to facilitate flow of power to the southern region.
The worst affected are the small and medium-sized unit owners, most of whom are left with no option but to either run captive units fuelled by expensive diesel or simply down the shutters.
Tamil Nadu’s auto hub adjoining Chennai accounts for around 40 per cent of the country’s car production and about 60 per cent of exports. While the bigger players have arranged for back-up, the smaller ancillary units are badly hit. These include 7.6 lakh small entrepreneurs.
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