On October 27, the industry in Telangana learnt that it would have to face a 24-hour power cut every week and rejoiced. This was after all better than the 48-hour scheduled power outage it was putting up with earlier. This relief was given after two days of rains in Telangana, which reduced the power consumption.
Power demand in the state has been unusually high in September this year because of no rains and a prolonged heat wave with temperatures running as high as 37 degrees centigrade. This has meant that the irrigation pumpsets - some 25 lakh of them - and air conditioners in the state capital Hyderabad had been operating excessively through the month. "It was a desperate measure as we had no power and are not well connected to other grids and the demand was unusual," says SK Joshi, Principal Secretary, Energy, Government of Telangana. The peak shortage was to the tune of 35 million units per day in September, according to Joshi.
"The demand for power in Telangana is more than Andhra Pradesh and reached a peak of 180 million units per day in September as against a normal peak demand of around 140 million units in the month leading to terrible shortages," says K Balarama Reddi, a power sector expert and former chairman of the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board.
An inadequate transmission corridor too has caused additional problems for both Telangana and AP, which are already differing on how power is to be shared between themselves. "They are not able to purchase power because of an inadequate transmission corridor. The Western and Southern grids and Eastern and Southern grids have thin grid connectivity. States need to be proactive and book transmission requirements in advance," says Reddi.
AP has less demand than Telangana and is striving to meet its requirements. It got 700 MW from other southern states, according to a senior official of the state who does not wish to be quoted. In addition, AP Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, leveraging his good equations with the centre, also got another 200 MW allocated from NTPC. So, currently, it has tied up in all 900 MW for this year, which roughly is 22 million units per day and just about meets the deficit that the state is facing. In addition, the official says, in a few days the first unit of the 800 MW Krishnapatnam power plant would get operational and the second unit in the next few months.
With rains now in Telangana and winter setting in, Joshi hopes to slowly lift the power supply restrictions. From November 1, the expectation is that the demand from the agriculture sector will also come down as the harvesting season would be over for paddy in the first week of November. The worst then may be over for the moment.