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Tariff plan to end grid collapse

Calcutta, Nov. 5: Come January 1, consumers in the eastern region will not have to suffer power cuts due to grid collapse.

The seemingly impossible is going to become a reality thanks to the Eastern Region Electricity Board’s decision to switch over to availability-based tariffs from next year. The introduction of availability-based tariffs will ensure that the demand-supply mismatch in power, which is the root cause of grid collapse, is brought down to the minimum.

The eastern region comprises West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Sikkim.

Under the availability-based tariff system, a power plant will be required to give an hourly schedule of generation while buyers will furnish a matching consumption schedule. In the event of a mismatch between the two, the defaulting entity will be penalised in terms of money.

The board will meet on November 25 in Ranchi where the modalities of implementation of the availability-based tariffs would be discussed and finalised.

Grid collapse occurs when equipment in power plants fail due to frequency fluctuations. Equipment designed at 50 Hz normally provide a variation of 1 Hz both on the upper and the lower sides.

The eastern region is plagued by grid collapse due to high frequency when the power generation is high but demand is low. Low frequency too accounts for grid collapse when demand is high but power generation is low.

The system frequency in the eastern region has been fluctuating between 52.7 Hz and 47.8 Hz, affecting both plants and equipment.

The immediate need for implementing availability-based tariff has been felt as the existing provisions of the grid code are not deterrent enough and do not provide financial penalties to be imposed on power utilities violating grid discipline.

While the eastern region grid had collapsed on July 25, 2000, the northern region collapsed on January 5, 2001, and the western one on April 30 this year.

Availability-based tariffs have already been implemented in the western region from May 1 this year. The northern region will implement it from December 1, while the southern region will implement it from January 1 next year.

The tariffs were supposed to be implemented from May 1 last year across the country, but has been delayed due to several court cases. The CERC is insisting that the tariffs be implemented without further delay as it can help prevent grid collapse.

“The eastern region has an adverse hydel-thermal mix (13:87) which affects the frequency fluctuation. In West Bengal the position is even worse with an adverse hydel-thermal mix (3:97). The frequency fluctuation is very high and maintaining grid discipline is really tough,” West Bengal State Electricity Board chairman G.D. Gautama said.

“If we get the generation and consumption schedule then it will be easier to smoothly man the grid. Neither will there be a sudden necessity of generating more electricity nor of cutting it down drastically. It becomes difficult to suddenly reduce the generation in case of thermal plants—the number of which is highest in the eastern region,” he added.

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