• Power crisis looms over Karnataka as dry spell continues

    A power shortage threat looms large over Karnataka, even as a chilly winter sets in. The dry spell is worrying the state government, which fears it may lead to a power crisis much before summer arrives.

    Normally, by now, all thermal units should start shutting down in a phased manner for overhauling. But this season, with no inflows into the reservoirs, and water levels in hydroelectric reservoirs reaching dead storage levels, thermal units have been working overtime, say official sources.

    A contingency plan on the power situation was finalized by a high-level meeting held last week by chief minister Siddaramaiah and attended by energy minister DK Shiva Kumar. It envisaged meeting the exigency by purchasing power from power traders and other states. This situation has resul ted from a prolonged drought, especially in South Karnataka where hydroelectric reservoirs are located. The state government has already declared drought in 110 taluks and is contemplating declaring another 25-30 taluks droughthit. Last year, an equal number of taluks was declared drought-hit. An official confirmed a crisis was brewing.

    “Water levels in hydroelectric projects are not bad since it’s the beginning of the dry season. When temperatures hit 35-36 degrees Celsius in February , electricity consumption will be much higher. As power demand for agriculture increases, there is more stress on the grid and this can lead to frequent outages,” the official added.

    Another official said the gap between demand and supply for power is estimated at 1,500MW to 1,800MW now.But this could go up to 2,5003,000 MW in April-May . The total demand for power in Karnataka is estimated to be more than 12,000MW, and 25% of this is consumed by Bengaluru . The crisis will be compounded by frequent repairs and maintenance activity at thermal plants in Udupi, Raichur and Ballari. A shortage of coal and water may make it worse as five of eight units at the Raichur station fell short of their production targets, due to shortage of water in the Krishna river last year.

    However, the government is confident it will be able to meet the situation without any cuts, except in the case of rural areas even during sum mer. P Ravi Kumar, additional chief secretary , department of energy , insisted industries would not be subjected to any cut and that seven-hour supply would be maintained at all costs to agriculture pumpsets.

    Government to buy power

    Sources said the government has issued instructions to the authorities to make arrangements to provide electricity for the maximum time, till the 2018 assembly elections. The government also restricted independent power producers from selling power to other states The additional burden will eventually be passed on to the consumer through a tariff hike.

    P Ravi Kumar, additional chief secretary, department of energy, said: “The state is set to become self-sufficient in the electricity sector after two new thermal plants at Ballari and Raichur are opened in one or two months. The government is aware of the power situation in summer and plans to purchase power only to safeguard the interests of the consumers.Buying power this time won’t be a problem as our neighbouring states, including Telangana and Tamil Nadu, have surplus power and the state can buy it cheaply any time.” Delano Hill Womens Jersey

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