Mescom officials say there is a shortfall of around 150 MW

The past week has been riddled with uncertainty when it comes to the electricity situation in the city. The cuts come unannounced, and restoration of the power doesn’t follow a scheduled pattern.

For Roshan D’Souza, who runs an iron shop in the city, says electricity is his livelihood as without it his iron box doesn’t work. In the heat of his old tiled-roof shop, he says the frequent power cuts eat into his earnings. “On some days, the power goes every hour. On an average I would say it goes around four hours of a working day. Considering that I can iron 15 clothes an hour, this comes up to a loss of Rs. 150 per hour. I have to work extra in the nights to make up for it. Even then, the power situation is unpredictable, and this makes it frustrating to work,” he said.

An official of the Government ITI in Kadri Hills said students are let off from laboratories early in the event of a power cut. “Our practical classes are held in tin sheds, which without fans will get very hot. Usually, the power goes around 3 p.m., and we have to let students go early,” said the official.

Similarly, shop keepers said they had to get blocks of ice as frequent power cuts sees ice creams in the fridge melting.

A cross-section of people who spoke to The Hindu from various areas in the city also vouches for frequent power cuts. The most pessimistic estimate puts power outages at four hours in a day in Bolar and Pandeshwar, two hours in Dongrakeri, two hours in Bunts’ Hostel area, four hours in Bondel, among others.

Admitting to a supply problem, Mangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (Mescom) officials said there was a deficit of around 150 MW. “We get an average of 600 MW, when the demand is more than 750 MW. Because of this, urban areas see at least two hours of power outages, while rural areas see at least 8 hours,” said an official.

The unscheduled nature of the power cuts was due to the “unpredictability” of power generators such as Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL). With the coal supply chain not yet stabilised for the power plant, the plant does not generate its installed capacity of 1,200 MW – of which 8.33 per cent comes to Mescom. “One shipment of coal lasts only five days there, and they do not have stock. To ensure the stock remains till the next shipment, they tend to produce 1000 MW or lesser. We can’t predict when generators fail, and because of this, we cannot schedule load shedding,” said the official.

Furthermore, peak hour loads are offset by having three hydel power projects – Sharavati, Kali and Varahi – which supply around 150 MW to the grid here. However, with the water levels depleting, officials fear this would add to the power crisis. “Our hope is that after April, when ground water levels deplete, there will be less usage of IP (irrigation pump-sets) and this will reduce the load,” said the official.

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