TANGEDCO cites monsoon, power from more units

Power managers are much harried these days. As a seasoned engineer of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) says, it is extremely embarrassing for him to interact with his relatives living outside Chennai. The reason is obvious – long hours of load shedding.

However, the TANGEDCO establishment strongly believes that it is only a matter of time that the severity of the shortage is bound to go down shortly.

As a senior official puts it, there is a “ray of hope.” The onset of northeast monsoon [which is expected by this weekend] and availability of power from additional units of the Mettur and North Chennai Thermal Power Stations and one unit of the Vallur Thermal Power Project, a joint venture project of the TANGEDCO and NTPC, form the basis for the sense of optimism on the part of those who matter now in the State power utility.

The present shortage of 4,000 megawatt (MW) did not exist, as the “helping hand” of wind energy was available. The State got nearly 3,000 MW from wind mills even though there were violent fluctuations in the availability of this form of renewable energy. In fact, this is why wind energy is called infirm power. Still, but for this renewable energy, things would have been much worse as the State received 50 per cent more than what it got last year. As against about 6,000 million units (MU) during June-September last year, wind energy contributed 9,000 MU in the last four months.

But, what had compounded the situation was an abysmally poor rainfall during the southwest monsoon. As against the inflow of around 3,000 MU last year, hydel reservoirs received just 1,300 MU this year. This meant a loss of 1,000 MW.

According to indications from the Meteorological Centre, this year’s northeast monsoon (October-December) will be normal. Once rains start, there will be a reduction of 1,500 MW straightaway.

Last week, the additional unit at Mettur attained its rated capacity of 600 MW. Efforts are on to ensure sustained generation. By December, this unit will give its full power to the State. Likewise, one unit of Vallur, synchronised in March, is likely to supply its share of 348 MW by the end of this month. Another 600 MW unit at the North Chennai plant will start its full generation in a few months.

Based on these calculations, the senior official is hopeful that the State will have at least 1,250 MW additionally by April 2013. This will ease the problem of shortage considerably during the next year’s summer.

Apart from these projects, the authorities are working on the early commissioning of two more units of 500 MW each at Vallur and one more unit of 600 MW at North Chennai.

The State’s position will be better if one unit of the Kundankulam Nucelar Power Project were to get commissioned by then as it would give about 460 MW.

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