States in denial; data shows massive overdrawing was overlooked

The “blackout” on Monday and the “torturous Tuesday” have clearly brought out the deficiencies in the management of the power grids across the country and there is no reason for anybody to believe that this would not happen again.

Notwithstanding the denial by Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and other States that they did not indulge in overdrawing of power, data accessed by The Hindu presents a starkly different story of rampant violation of grid discipline.

The Northern Regional Load Despatch Centre (NRLDC) and the State load despatch centres, along with the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), cannot escape blame for “messing up” the situation and bringing misery to millions of people. It is well known for the last almost two months that the northern grid States had been playing havoc with the system.

However, official information indicates that NRLDC and the State load despatch centres were fully aware that States were indulging in massive overdrawing. However, except for filing petitions with the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), they hardly took any action to save the situation. “The control rooms of these load despatch centres were fully aware of what was going on and which States were posing a danger to the grid. But they failed to isolate these States from the grid and prevent a complete collapse,” a senior official in the Power Ministry said.

On their part, the States have not only failed to adhere to grid discipline but also not complied with the directive of the regulatory body to install automatic demand management schemes, including under frequency relays (UFRs).

For instance, according to the NRLDC petition filed with the CERC, in June, the frequency on certain days went below 49.5 Hz for 70 per cent of the day. On several days, the instantaneous frequency went below 48.8 Hz which is the first stage of the safety-net in terms of UFR settings. Data shows State control areas were overdrawing from the grid even if the frequency was below 49.5 Hz. During the period from July 10-16, the NRLDC had again informed the CERC that overdrawing from the grid was continuing and the order of CERC and the directions of NRLDC were not being complied with.

During June the overdrawing of power by U.P. was as high as 43.32 million units per day. For Haryana and Punjab, the overdrawing touched 27.83 MU and 18.33 MU per day. July was no different, as from July 10-16, Punjab overdrew at an average of 5.23 MU per day, Uttar Pradesh averaged 26.07 MU, Haryana 13.88 MU and Rajasthan 2 MU.