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Fog, sudden drop in minimum temperature in Pune may have led to power outage

Sachin Talewar, chief engineer of Pune zone of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL), explained why fog could have been the problem.

Written by Anjali Marar , Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: February 10, 2022 5:13:04 am
Pune fog, Pune power outage, Pune power cut, Pune news, Pune power cut reason, Indian expressParts of northern Maharashtra, including Pune, reported foggy conditions during the wee hours of Wednesday.(Representational Image)

THE SUDDEN fall in minimum temperatures coupled with fog may have contributed to Pune city’s power outage that lasted for over six hours on Wednesday.

Sachin Talewar, chief engineer, Pune Zone of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, explained why fog could have been the problem. “Due to heavy fog, sometimes there may be dust particles over the conductor and that can reduce the conductive path. This, at times, can lead to tripping of the power transmission lines. At times, the insulator in the line can get punctured. Sometimes, dust can get accumulated over the insulator in the line at the transmission tower. Fog can make it wet, leading to reduction in the conductive path,” said Talewar.

Parts of northern Maharashtra, including Pune, reported foggy conditions during the early hours of Wednesday.

Officials of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had forecast that minimum temperatures in these regions will show a downward trend — lasting for about two to three days — this week.

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The Shivajinagar observatory confirmed foggy conditions recorded over Pune and surroundings during early morning hours of Wednesday. The minimum temperature recorded in Pune on Wednesday was 12 degrees Celsius, a fall from 14.8 degrees on Tuesday. “The power distributors often want to know the moisture content and the range of minimum temperatures. The distribution companies have an equipment that trips, when the moisture levels or minimum temperatures cross their threshold values,” said K S Hosalikar, head, Climate Research Service of IMD, Pune. Fog, he said, was moisture loaded air observed during early morning and late evening hours. Depending on its density, it can disrupt visibility that gets reduced to one km or less.

Fog, lower minimum temperatures and pollution can together lead to tripping of Extra High Voltage (EHV) power lines (transmission between 4 lakh to 7.5 lakh Volts), causing massive power disruptions, such as the one Pune witnessed on Wednesday. These are, however, more common in north India regions where fog days are higher during the winter season.

The senior meteorologist said that there has been a fall in minimum temperatures over Pune since Tuesday and the trend will last till Thursday. However, there were others who were not convinced with the explanation offered by officials for the outage.

“The reasoning of heavy fog surrounding the transmission lines is unbelievable. By this yardstick, Delhi should have a complete power breakdown. The power utility is probably unsure about what happened and hence trying to cover it up under the excuse of heavy fog. Did we not have foggy days earlier too,” asked Vivek Velankar, founder of Sajag Nagrik Manch.

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