Stalled Tangedco substations leave parts of Chennai in a sweat

Power infrastructure has not kept pace with the explosive growth of residential construction in the suburbs, leading to unscheduled outages as demand peaks

While power managers for Chennai have taken credit for the fact that the city has been spared prolonged power outages over the summer, unscheduled power cuts for upto an hour in several parts of the city are routine.

The demand for electricity in the city has been growing year on year. Peak demand of over 3,600 MW was recorded in June this year.

Local officials say they are forced to resort to shutdowns whenever supply to a particular area is unable to match the demand. Several areas in south Chennai have been facing low voltage and power disruptions leading to protests by residents.

According to senior officials of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco), the delay in commissioning transmission substations has resulted power managers resorting to periodic ‘artificial’ shutdowns, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour.

Projects in limbo

Several substation projects, planned almost two years ago, are still under construction, with a few important projects stuck on the drawing board.

The incomplete projects include 230 kilo volt (KV) and 110 KV substations planned for Mambalam, Thiruvanmiyur, Velachery, Nesapakkam, Maduravoyal and Pulianthope. In a telling instance of inordinate delays, the 110 KV substation planned for a private mall on Velachery Main Road has not even reached the construction stage, though the mall has become a major commercial hub.

These transmission substations are important to ease transmission congestion in high demand areas, say officials.

Also a few projects involving installing underground cables in Porur, Kalivanthapattu to Taramani and Sriperumbudur to Taramani, to provide backfeeding to 230 KV substations remain incomplete.

A senior official of the utility’s South circle said as far as the 110 KV Velachery substation is concerned, a contractor had been identified after global tendering and construction of the Gas Insulated Substation (GIS) would begin soon. The official said the present 110 KV substation located on Velachery Main Road does not have provision for backfeeding and so land has been identified for constructing a 33 KV substation at Venkateswara Nagar.

Lacks green nod

Similarly the residents in Madipakkam, Pallikaranai and Ullagaram Puzhithivakkam, have been complaining about low voltage problems.

M. Kirubakaran, a resident of Kubera Nagar, said the residents have been facing low voltage for several years and the residents also experienced power disruptions last month.

The Tangedco had planned a 110/33/11 KV substation near Balaji Nagar in Pallikaranai for which construction work has been completed but the project could not be commissioned because of denial of environment clearance from the Central government, as it would entail bringing power lines through the Pallikaranai marsh.

Officials have since undertaken a survey to reroute the power lines and have assured that the substation would be connected before the end of this year.

Multi-storeyed demand

At the other end of the city, the western suburbs of Mogappair, Nolambur, Thiruverkadu, and Maduravoyal are seeing a lot of construction activity, with several large multi-storey apartments coming up.

However, the mushrooming of these gated communities in these areas, which were once villages, has not been matched with adequate power infrastructure. Given the projected power demand, Tangedco officials have planned more 33/11 KV substations at Adayalampattu, Karambakkam and Ponniamman Nagar near Porur.

T. Rajan, a resident of Vignesh Nagar in Nolambur, said the locality is no stranger to power disruptions. Whenever electricity officials are contacted, they cite snapping of overhead cables or technical snags in transformers and promise to rectify the problem in 30 minutes, he adds ruefully.

Tangedco officials say that the delay in the commissioning of the 33/11 KV substation located near a multi-storey complex in Adayalampattu is responsible for the frequent blackouts in the area.

A similar overload problem plagues Nolambur, Maduravoyal, Vanagaram, Thiruverkadu and Mogappair electricity divisions.

A local official said all large residential projects involving more than 5 MVA electricity load, should be given supply only after the power infrastructure works involving substations and transformers were commissioned.

However, supply to many large gated communities had been provided before the substations are commissioned, leading to overload disruptions in other areas, he added.

However, a senior Tangedco official denied any delay in the Adayalampattu substation, and said all necessary equipment had been installed and the facility would be inaugurated shortly.

While all these substations are pending completion, the power managers in the Operation and Maintenance point out that big substations in north and south Chennai will need to be taken up for maintenance work ahead of the next summer. They added that the 400 KV substations in Guindy and Pulianthope will need to be speeded up.

In north Chennai, where a big multi-storey apartment is coming up, officials have planned to install a 400/230 KV substation near Basin Bridge to meet the future demand.

With the Operation and Maintenance officials receiving flak for power cuts, the local officials of Tangedco want the transmission department to take steps to complete the projects soon, including the substations and installing of underground cable and enhancement of power transformers to meet next summer’s power demand without any disruptions.

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Printable version | Mar 23, 2020 2:06:00 AM |

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