State heading for power crisis

The Hindu, Saturday, Mar 06, 2004

MOOZHIYAR (PATHANAMTHITTA DISTRICT), MARCH 5. In spite of better water management by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) during the last 12 months, the State is heading towards the worst power crisis in the last one decade. Poor monsoon and scorching weather have worsened the storage position at the major KSEB reservoirs of Idukki, Sabarigiri, Sholayar, Edamalayar and Mattupetty. The total storage at the KSEB reservoirs as on March 3 will be enough to generate 1,201.29 million units (MU) of power. The Idukki and Sabarigiri reservoirs have got 26.33 per cent and 36.77 per cent respectively of the total capacity as on March 3.

The catchment areas of the 300 MW Sabarigiri hydro-electric project, the second largest hydel power project in the State, has recorded an all-time low rainfall of 1,410 mm. in the past one year against the expected average annual rainfall of 4,000 mm. The rainfall in the Sabarigiri catchment in 2002-2003 was 1,536 mm. as per the KSEB records. The KSEB reservoirs in the State have received a total inflow, sufficient to generate 4,146 MU of power as on March 3, against its previous year's figure of 4,356 MU, while the expected normal inflow is 6,800 MU, according to official sources. The KSEB reservoirs have recorded a shortfall in the annual inflow by 40 per cent.

Meanwhile, the State's total power consumption has shot up to 36.745 MU as on March 3 with a hydel generation of 11.4867 MU, 2.363 MU from two diesel plants, 7.561 MU from the Kayamkulam thermal power plant, 3.7302 MU from the Bombay Suburban Electric Supplies (BSES) and 0.46 MU from the Kasaragod Power Corporation Ltd. (KPCL). The total power generation in the State on March 3 was 25.6009 MU with a power purchase of 11.1537 MU from the Central pool. According to sources, the evening peak power demand in the State has been placed around 2,125 MW during the last two months and it is most likely to touch an all-time high by March 31. The all-time high evening peak demand recorded in the State is 2,347 MW on March 20, 2003, according to sources.

With the lifting of load-shedding from March 10, in view of the SSLC examinations, the State's daily power demand is most likely to cross 38 MU, which will also be another all-time high in the history of the KSEB. It is a fact that the KSEB has adopted pragmatic water management by increasing the hydel generation at its Group-II and Group-III stations like Lower Periyar, Kakkad and Poringalkuthu during the monsoon so as to get the maximum output from there while keeping the generation low at its major power houses like Idukki, Sabarigiri, Sholayar and Edamalayar to make its hydel reserve in a better position during the lean days.