THE YEAR 2017 saw many dark days in the suburbs of Mumbai and in the extended suburbs of Thane and Navi Mumbai as an unforeseen coal shortage forced discoms to resort to load shedding. For a state that boasted of being “load shedding free” for at least three years since 2014, the shortage led to hours of outages owing to distress load shedding. In some parts of Thane, outages lasted for over 10 hours, crippling daily life. Now, with agricultural consumption expected to rise in January, the threat of shortage persists.
But what does the shortage mean for Mumbai, which has largely enjoyed immunity from load shedding? A look at the consumption pattern in the city shows a steep rise in demand every year. In five years, the peak demand of Mumbai has shot up by over 350MW.
From 3,217MW in 2013, the peak demand is now bordering 3,600 MW, according to data available from the Maharashtra State Load Dispatch Centre. In June last year, the city’s peak demand was recorded at 3,592MW. Reliance Energy, which caters to a large part of the suburbs, saw the peak demand rise from 1,697MW in 2013-14 to 1,884 MW last year.
The city consumes more energy than produced by discoms, specifically for the city – between the Dahanu and Trombay power plants, they generate around 2,000MW. The rest is transmitted from power plants outside the city.
“So, if the coal shortage affects any of the plants outside the city from where the power is being brought in, the city could see load shedding,” said Ashok Pendse, an industry expert.
Last year, parts of Bhandup and Mulund saw outages for a few hours. While the industrial user is the largest consumer of electricity in rest of Maharashtra, in Mumbai, it is the commercial consumer — offices, malls and commercial complexes. “The rise in consumption and peak demand is because of increased use of air conditioners in the city,” Pendse said.
The rise and a slight increase in tariff has ensured better collection for the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited. Collections have increased from Rs 846.87 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 984.54 crore in 2016-17.
A corresponding increase in peak demand has been witnessed across the state – a rise of 2,000MW last year compared to 2016. However, according to the Central Electricity Authority, Maharashtra faced an actual energy shortage of 0.3 per cent in 2015-16, even as a surplus of 3.5 per cent was anticipated.