Bescom’s season of worries

April 09, 2013 08:31 am | Updated November 17, 2021 12:18 am IST - Bangalore

Shashi Chandrashekhar has just bought a flat in Kempapura near Hebbal here. Apart from the usual requirements, i.e., water supply and road access, one of the first things she sought was a UPS (uninterruptible power source) connection. “We experience frequent power cuts, some extending up to three hours. When it rained last week, we had no electricity the whole night,” she said.

In fact, many like Ms. Chandrashekhar, who have invested in a home recently, are opting to have generators/inverters in their residences, a phenomenon confined to commercial establishments not very long ago. Those who have been using UPS systems at home are not complaining.

Aditya Ramakrishna, who lives in Rajarajeshwarinagar, said that the UPS he installed in his house three years ago has not had any significant bearing on his electricity bill.

“Now, we are at least prepared for the frequent power cuts as we know we have backup for at least four hours,” he said.

300 MW shortage

A light rain is enough to expose the delicate power situation in the city, but the summer season is when the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) becomes “powerless”.

According to Bescom figures, this summer alone, a shortage of 300 MW is expected.

On the other hand, the total increase in demand for power for the season has been pegged at 600 MW. The yearly increase in demand for power in Bangalore — 18 per cent — is in fact higher than the national figure of 16 per cent.

Water levels

The reasons for this include the depleting water levels due to which more power is used to pump the same quantity of water, additional demand for power from cooling equipment such as air-conditioners (accounting for almost 1,000 kw of the total 4,000 MW demand per hour), and so on, and the increased usage of lighting as it is the exam season.

In addition, unexpected shortages have hit the power utility. Until Sunday, Bescom was faced with a 500 MW shortage as the second unit of Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) was down due to coal shortage.

The first unit of the Bellary Thermal Power Station (BTPS) was offline due to damaged cables.

Both these problems were eventually fixed, overcoming a total of 1,000 MW shortage, said sources in the Energy Department.

Projects derailed

But for some other changes, the electricity supply company will have to wait. The replacement of old units at the Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) has been hit by fund shortage. The non-allocation of coal by the Centre has derailed at least three projects, Bescom sources said. The sources added that the government policy disallowing the utility to have reserves is working against it. “We are not allowed to have reserves. This means that we buy power at a higher cost and sell it at a loss to another State needing power. “As we cannot have reserves, we plan neck-and-neck. So even if one unit goes down, we will have to resort to load shedding,” according to a Bescom official.

Bescom is heavily dependent on purchase of power. While power generated from hydel sources accounts for 12 per cent, thermal sources contribute nearly 70 per cent. Much of the latter is purchased from Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL).

“Bescom spends nearly Rs. 12,000 crore every year, with nearly Rs. 9,000 crore worth power being purchased from KPCL,” sources said.

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