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Wind energy dips, power crisis looms

Coimbatore: As wind energy production dipped to nil in the Coimbatore and Tirupur region, the threat of intense power cuts is looming large over the western districts of Tamil Nadu.

Over the last four days, there has been no wind energy production in the Coimbatore region due to rains. “Wind energy production came to a nil in the Coimbatore region over the last four days,” said D. Manoharan, chief engineer of Tangedco, Coimbatore circle.

The Coimbatore circle, comprising Coimbatore, Nilgiris and Tirupur, requires about 34 million units of power every day. Almost 22 per cent of the energy needs of Tamil Nadu are met by wind power during the peak season in June when it reaches up to 1,200 MW per day.

“Generation of wind energy comes to an end by September 23. Since May, an average of 65-85 million units of power per day was generated through wind energy across the state,” said a windmill owner.

However, the electricity board is managing to cope with the crisis despite the lack of wind energy due to a rise in hydel energy production following heavy rains. “Normally, only 15 million units of power are produced from hydel power, but now, due to incessant rains, around 27 million units of power are generated. If not for the rains, residents may have witnessed some intense power cuts,” the official said.

There are around 12,000 windmills across the state and almost 50 per cent of them are in the western districts of Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode. The remaining 50 per cent are in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu.

Unscheduled power cuts in Kovai irksome:

Unscheduled power cuts are back for households and industrial units in Coimbatore as almost all areas in the city suffer outages for about one or two hours daily. Though the electricity board had announced that there would be no outage for households, there are reports of unannounced power cuts from across Coimbatore district.

“Several areas witness half-an-hour to one hour of power cuts. The early end to wind energy production could be the reason for the drop in power supply. Usually, wind power energy production lasts till October. However, this time around, it ended very early,” said the state advisory member of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission, K. Kathirmathiyon.

The electricity board should take up maintenance works of alternative sources of energy production when wind energy production peaks so that they do not witness any breakdown. “However, maintenance is done only when a system breaks down, leading to unscheduled production loss,” he said.

Not just residents, industries are also hit by power cuts. “We face unscheduled power cuts extending up to two hours on the city outskirts,” said J. James, president of the Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Micro Enterprises (TACT). “Industrial production has come down by up to 60 per cent in the bigger industries due to peak hour restriction in power use, and 20 per cent power cut imposed on them. Hence, micro units dependent on them have been affected badly without orders,” he said.

There are 30,000 micro units and more than 3 lakh labourers working in them in Coimbatore district. However, a Tangedco official claimed that power cuts had not been imposed in Coimbatore. “There has been no official load shedding, but there may be some breakdowns due to the rains and maintenance work which are attended to immediately,” he said.