After announcing its plans for a second power station for the Idukki hydroelectric project, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is pursuing a similar scheme for the Sabarigiri hydel project in Pathanamthitta district.
On the cards is an additional powerhouse at Moozhiyar with an installed capacity of ''at least 200 MW,'' says a KSEB official. The director board of the State-run power utility has cleared a proposal to entrust WAPCOS Ltd., the consultancy firm under the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, with the preparation of the feasibility study report and detailed project report (DPR) for the Sabarigiri extension scheme.
Kerala's second biggest hydel project, the 340-MW Sabarigiri project was commissioned in the late 1960s. It has an installed capacity of 340 MW, but age-related problems plague the powerhouse situated at Moozhiyar. On April 1, the KSEB was forced to shut down one of the six generators at the station after it tripped due to a stator winding failure. Another unit has been down for over a year owing to technical glitches.
In existing facility
The additional powerhouse is planned in the vicinity of the existing facility. The project does not require a new reservoir, but will have a separate tunnel and penstock system to draw water, KSEB chairman and managing director B. Ashok said. The Sabarigiri hydel project draws water from the Kakki and Pampa reservoirs.
An additional power house will enable the KSEB to increase in-house hydroelectric generation, thus reducing the expenditure on peak-hour power purchases, according to the Capital Investment Plan for 2022-23 filed by the KSEB before the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
It will further reduce the burden on the existing power station and help meet the morning and evening peak-hour power demand. Since no additional reservoir is required, environmental issues are lesser and hence obtaining statutory clearances will be a relatively easier task, according to the KSEB.
For the Idukki hydel project, the KSEB has already announced plans for a new 800-MW power station at Moolamattom to complement the existing 780-MW power generation facility. WAPCOS is also carrying out studies for the Idukki Golden Jubilee Extension Scheme, which is estimated to cost ₹2,669.67 crore. As environmental concerns prevent implementation of big hydel projects, enhancing the capacity of existing storage hydro power facilities is seen as an alternative by the KSEB.