The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) may find it difficult to manage the coming summer without power cut or load shedding.

A top official of the KSEB told The Hindu on Monday that the difficulty was caused by a combination of reasons.

The evening-time power demand in the State has gone up to so high levels that the KSEB is forced to overdraw electricity from its hydroelectric stations on a daily basis now.

Since a load shedding schedule is not advisable till school examinations are over, the KSEB will have to continue overdrawing electricity from its hydroelectric stations till March end. April and May can turn out to be testing months.

Demand and supply

The time when the load demand climbs to its peak in the State is between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. The demand during this period of the day is now in the range of 3,300 MW. Of this requirement, it is possible to bring only up to 1,400 MW from outside the State from Central power generating stations and other competitive sources because of the limited capacity of the existing transmission system.

This means that the KSEB will have to find sources to draw around 1,900 MW from within the State. The hydroelectric stations can generate only a maximum of 1,600 MW, but it will come down from this level in the dry months since the storage of water in the reservoirs is getting depleted to levels that will force the KSEB to shut down some of the hydroelectric generators in the State then.

The gap between the demand and the availability of power from hydro sources and other sources from outside the State will then have to be filled by purchasing very expensive electricity from sources such as the Kayamkulam station of the National Thermal Power Corporation.

The per-unit cost of power from Kayamkulam is more than Rs.10 now, whereas the KSEB's average realisation of the cost from the consumers is only Rs.3.43 per unit.

“The KSEB will end up in a very deep financial crisis if we go for the luxury of taking the very expensive thermal power that is available in the State beyond a judicious limit,” the official said.