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Network tangle in power test

- Transmission challenge to Nitish energy wish

Patna, Aug. 19: Chief minister Nitish Kumar has taken up the challenge to meet the state’s energy requirement by the end of 2015, but it is a bigger trial for his government to supply power to every household because of the poor transmission and distribution network.

A survey by the Central Electricity Authority has predicted that Bihar’s projected peak demand by the end of 2015 would be around 4,000MW as against the current 3,000MW. The state government hopes to get around 3,600MW by the end of 2015 through internal generation, its share in the central sector and purchase from private companies.

Nitish, in his Independence Day address, said he would not go to the electorate to seek votes in 2015 if he failed to improve the power situation. The chief minister said the government has embarked on the ambitious project to replace the 72,000-km of dilapidated transmission and distribution lines to provide smooth power supply to the far-flung areas of the state. In the past year-and-a-half, he has repeatedly asked senior power board officers to shed their “casual approach” in replacing the dilapidated wires.

“We have so far replaced 15,500km to 16,000km dilapidated wires across the state and the target would be completed in the next three years,” power board spokesperson H.R. Pandey told The Telegraph. The tardy pace of replacement of the dilapidated wires and setting up of a new grid sub-station to tackle the increasing load factor in the state capital could be an example, a board official said. He added that the board could replace about 300km of distribution and transmission lines out of 3,000km in Patna.

According to sources, power generation can be increased through renovation, modernisation and expansion of the Kanti and Barauni thermal plants that promise generation of nearly 700MW. Besides, completion of Phase-II of the Barh super thermal power plant of 1,320MW would provide the state with another 660MW in 2013. The state would get an additional 100MW from an NTPC-Railway joint venture, while an agreement with the private power players to buy 1,010MW in phases from 2014 for the next 25 years would be another source of energy. The state would also get 1,000-1,200MW from the central sector as against the scheduled allocation of 1,833MW.

The Digha grid sub-station, which took the load off the overloaded Khagaul grid, was started after much delay. Another grid sub-station at Sampatchak is yet to be completed. The state is yet to supply electricity to about 6,500 villages out of 39,000 in the state. Pandey said these villages would get electricity in next three years. On the availability of power, the state’s decision of signing power purchase deals of 1,010MW with Essar Power and GMR Kamalanga for 25 years from the open market might not rescue it in 2015.

Of the 3,600MW power available to the government in 2015, over 1,000MW will come from private players and the government is heavily banking on it. However, the board, which has signed an agreement with NTPC and Adani Power for supply of 500MW of power under short- and medium-term deals, is receiving about 150 to 250MW. Adani Power had stopped supplying for a week or more after the July 31 grid failure.

“The plan may go for a toss if such a situation arises in 2015. It needs to make it clear to the private players that they would have to supply 1,010MW and ensure smooth power supply according to the deals,” the board officer said. The 1,980MW (3x660MW) Nabinagar thermal power project has run into rough weather as the earth filling work for the project has stopped because of farmers’ resistance.


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