Substantial relief expected only when wind power generation begins by May

People in Tiruchi region seem to be in for a long and torturous summer as the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) has sharply increased the load-shedding duration.

Load-shedding for domestic consumers in the region has been increased to 11 to 12 hours in the region covering eight districts.

Given the monsoon failure, summer has set in early this year with the mercury touching 37 degrees Celsius over the past few days. This has resulted in a sharp rise in demand as residents and commercial establishments turn to air conditioners, leaving the Tangedco to resort to at least 11 hours of load shedding for domestic consumers in urban areas and 12 hours in rural areas. Load shedding is enforced in a two-hour spell in the mornings and at least one three-hour spell during the day, besides frequent one-hour spells right through the day.

Worse still, power cuts have returned during nights leaving residents fretting under the sultry condition. Load-shedding is enforced in one-hour spells at least thrice during the night, much to the discomfiture of the residents, especially students preparing for the public exams.

The sudden increase in the load-shedding after the relatively better days in the past couple of months, when load-shedding ranged between three to five hours, has raised apprehensions among city residents over the possibility of the situation worsening in the coming months.

“With the State government holding out assurances that the situation will improve soon, we were expecting that the power cuts will not be as bad as the past two years. But much to our disappointment, we find the power cuts rising even before the peak summer,” said Ashok, a resident of Thillai Nagar.

What has irked consumers is the Tangedco’s failure to notify the increase in load-shedding duration and the schedule of power cuts.

“There is no uniformity in the load-shedding hours. It is erratic and we can hardly schedule our works,” he adds.

Small businesses are the worst hit as they cannot afford generators. “More than 50 per cent of our daily business is affected. My staff are sitting ideal for most of the day, but I have to retain them,” says Ramesh, who runs a photocopying shop in Thennur.

Tangedco officials, while speaking to The Hindu, said demand has gone up to 1,200 MW in the Tiruchi region. Hopes are pinned on the wind season and senior officials concede They said there may not be much relief until May, when wind power generation is expected to begin.

They were expecting some relief once commercial operations begin at the thermal power stations in North Chennai and Mettur, both of 600 MW capacity. “This may help in bringing down the load shedding duration to a certain extent. However, we expect substantial relief only after wind power generation begins,” a senior officer said.

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