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Short on rainfall, low on power
- Generation hit at state's hydel plants

Bhubaneswar, June 27: The state government is worried about its hydro-power generation this year because of erratic rainfall.

Between May and June, the state usually generates 800MW to 900MW of electricity daily. This time, the production at seven hydro-power projects, with an installed capacity of 2084MW in the state has been around 450 MW.

During the monsoon, power generation sometimes varies between 1000MW and 1100 MW.

“Generally, the state receives a rainfall of 186.4mm in June. This year, it has received 79.9mm so far, which is deficient by 57 per cent,” said director of regional meteorology centre Sarat Chandra Sahu. In May, too, the state experiences rainfall.

Lack of adequate shower has led water level in the six reservoirs to drop. The erratic monsoon has forced the state government to restrict its hydro-power generation.

“If rains are delayed, there will be problem to maintain the minimum water level in the reservoirs. We have decided to restrict hydro-power generation from six reservoirs. The shortfall of power will be managed from other sources,” energy secretary P.K. Jena told The Telegraph.

At present, availability of power in the state is 2800MW to 2850MW against the maximum demand for of 3000MW (depending on peak load). There is a shortfall of around 200MW mainly due to low hydro-power generation. The state is generating 450MW of hydel power and procuring 700MW of thermal power from captive power plants, 660MW from Ib and Talcher thermal power stations. Around 900MW electricity is procured from the national grind.

“After the onset of monsoon, the state’s power demand should have been 2700MW to 2750MW by June 15. But because of delayed monsoon, the demand has remained at the level of 3000MW to 3100MW, leaving a shortfall of around 200MW to 250MW,” said a senior official of the energy department.

“This shortage becomes more acute when there is a breakdown at thermal power stations. And once, a thermal unit develops snag, it takes 3 to 4 days for restoration,” said another official stating that there were breakdowns at Ib thermal power station, NTPC’s Kanika super thermal plant and Farakka.

“This year, because of prediction about delayed monsoon and deficient rainfall, we have become a bit conservative in our approach and tried to keep some water stored at Upper Indravati, Balimela and Upper Kolab reservoirs,” the official said.

“Gridco, the official distributor of power, procures electricity from the power exchange, if available at affordable rates to meet the shortfall. Earlier, Gridco was allowed to make overdrawal from the national grid to meet the shortfall. But now, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has made it clear that one has to pay a penalty for overdrawal of power beyond the stipulated percentage,” director(commercial) P.K. Pradhan said.

Energy departmental officials hope that the shortfall will be for a temporary period. “We expect that with the arrival of monsoon, though late, the state’s power demand will come down to a level where there will be no power regulation,” said a senior official.

Director of met centre Sahu, too, is hopeful. There has been heavy rainfall in the interior areas during the last two days.

“The reservoirs will not be filed up unless there is continuous rainfall. It may happen around July 4 and 5.”

“If the situation worsens, we will think of alternatives to ensure that people do not suffer due to power shortage,” said an official of the energy department.