Installed capacity will jump from 12,500 MW to 16,500 MW by March 2015

About one-and-a-half-years ago, domestic consumers in different parts of the State, except Chennai, were reeling under severe load shedding that ranged from 12 to 14 hours.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s announcement that the State will be free of power cuts from June 1 marks a turnaround in the power supply situation, even if it is viewed with scepticism in some quarters, which believe that the government’s optimism is based on the expected wind generation that peaks during the months of June to September when the southwest monsoon is active.

The government’s confidence in tiding over the crisis in the immediate future stems from a combination of factors like capacity addition to the tune of 2,550 megawatt (MW), long-term power purchase agreements for 3,300 MW and the new projects in the pipeline with a generation capacity of 2,000 MW that will further ease the situation, say officials of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO).

In terms of capacity addition, the latest to be commissioned was a 600-MW unit at the North Chennai Thermal Power Station of the TANGEDCO early this month. There are now two units of 600 MW each at the station, which also has three units of 210 MW each.

Of the three units of 500 MW each in the joint venture between NTCP and TANGEDCO in Vallur, two have been commissioned. The third will be commissioned in a few months. Tamil Nadu’s share is 375 MW from each unit.

Apart from the 4x210 MW available capacity in Mettur, a 600-MW plant has also become operational, generating 400 MW. A month ago, hydrogen leak bothered the authorities but they are working to fix the problem.

When the southwest monsoon sets in next week, the State will have the benefit of higher quantum of wind power. As per a conservative estimate, the State will get, on an average, 3,000 MW during June-September. When the Kayathar-Sholinganallur wind corridor is commissioned by July, more power will be made available to the northern parts of the State, which are having greater demand than other regions.

Not just that. In 10 months, 2,000 MW more will be available for consumers. This will be through various projects, including joint venture projects being taken up by the Tangedco with NTPC and the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), and the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.

In addition, the State will get another 2,000 MW during the current financial year as the Corporation has signed long-term pacts with private suppliers for 15 years. The agreements have been entered into for 3,300 MW totally. However, even here, there are problems with the grid corridors that Tangedco officials expect to be sorted out by July. The remaining 1,300 MW will be available next year. Already, the State is receiving 500 MW through a five-year purchase agreement.

Owing to these measures, the State’s installed capacity will jump from the present 12,500 MW to 16,500 MW by March 2015. The installed capacity includes about 2,300 MW of hydro power, which is normally used to meet the peak-hour load.

“On Wednesday, the gap between demand and supply was 1000 MW. Wind power generation has not picked up. An active monsoon will improve both wind and hydel production in the months to come,” says a senior official. A close and periodical monitoring of the commissioned projects is essential to sustain the turnaround and ensure the State is not haunted by power cuts again, the official says.

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