With power generation from windmills steadily declining over the last few days, load shedding in southern districts has increased significantly.
While the pattern of volatile wind production is a recurring one, industries say the difference this time is that wind season is drawing to a close and power generation cannot be expected to increase again consistently to peak levels.
The escalating power cuts in the last three days have led the industries to question whether the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) has a contingency plan in place as the lack of wind power will deprive the electricity grid of between 2,500 MW to 3,500 MW.
This quantum is vital for meeting the State’s peak time demand, which exceeds 11,000 MW.
According to sources, the relief (power savings) obtained by TANGEDCO through the use of load shedding more than doubled in the past week alone. It went up to 40.569 million units this Sunday (September 16) from 16.455 million units (MU) last Sunday (September 9).
Power consumption from windmills is also varying significantly; from 64.636 MU on September 9 to 77.198 MU on September 14 before declining to 57.883 MU on September 16.
Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association (TANSTIA) vice-president K.R. Gnanasambandan told The Hindu in Madurai on Monday that power situation had worsened significantly in the last three days with no clear answers coming from the power authorities.
Domestic consumers were complaining of erratic supply, especially during the night.
Welcoming Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s announcement on Sunday that the government would absorb 50 per cent of TANGEDCO’s short and medium term loans accounting for Rs.9,529 crore and the sanctioning of Rs. 1,000 crore to enable it meet immediate requirements, he said these funds must be used to expedite ongoing projects and revamp existing thermal units, many of which were facing frequent accidents and equipment outages.
TANGEDCO Madurai region sources said that power supply from Central grid had declined as many units were offline.
While the most immediate option available to tide over the shortfall from windmills was short-term power purchase from private markets, which was expensive, officials said that TANGEDCO was looking to expedite ongoing projects.
It was evident that consumers of the southern districts would face a tough time over the next couple of months as TANGEDCO struggled to manage the grid.
The TANGEDCO Madurai Region comprises Madurai, Dindigul, Theni, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts.
As on July 31, Tamil Nadu, with a total installed capacity of 7,084.175 MW, continued to occupy the first place in India in harnessing wind energy, accounting for 40 per cent of the country’s total capacity of 17,389.31 MW.
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