Storage in hydel dams dips as summer rainfall proves elusive

Continued absence of summer rain coupled with delayed southwest monsoon onset in June could spell trouble for State on power supply front

April 16, 2023 07:59 pm | Updated 09:56 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Cattle grazing on the dried up bed of the catchment area the Malampuzha dam on Sunday. Water in the dam is depleting fast with summer intensifying.

Cattle grazing on the dried up bed of the catchment area the Malampuzha dam on Sunday. Water in the dam is depleting fast with summer intensifying. | Photo Credit: K.K. MUSTAFAH

Dipping water levels in the hydroelectric dams in Kerala have emerged as a concern for the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) as summer rain continues to play truant this April.

The combined storage in the dams was down to 40% of the capacity (equivalent to 1,651.27 million units) on Saturday. The storage is the lowest since 2019. Storage in the Idukki reservoir, the biggest is the State, is at 36% of its capacity.

Energy consumption crossed 100 million units (MU) on two consecutive days — April 13 (100.30 MU, a State record) and April 14 (100.08 MU) — due to the soaring summer temperatures and the absence of summer showers. Consumption dipped to 93.29 MU on April 15, a holiday on account of Vishu.

Revised forecast

Meanwhile, the IMD has revised its rainfall forecasts for the State. As per the latest five-day forecast, Idukki, Ernakulam and the southern districts are likely to receive light to moderate rainfall till April 20. Earlier forecasts had predicted a Statewide coverage.

Kerala has so far recorded a 40% deficiency in the seasonal summer rainfall, with six districts — Kasaragod, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur — recording ‘large deficiency’ (rainfall deficiency in excess of 60%).

Manageable now

The KSEB is expected to review the power situation this week. According to KSEB officials, the present power demand can be managed through the power purchase agreements and ‘swap’ arrangements made in advance. But continued absence of summer rain coupled with delayed southwest monsoon onset in June could spell trouble for Kerala on the power supply front.

According to initial KSEB projections, power demand should have peaked at 98-99 MU this summer. But the truant summer showers and soaring heat nudged consumption levels over the 100 MU mark.

Last week, the KSEB had appealed to the public to reduce their electricity usage between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., the period when the daily demand peaks.

In 2022, daily electricity consumption had touched its highest at 92.88 MU, a State-level record at the time. This year, records have been tumbling on a daily basis — April 10 (90.61 MU), April 11 (95.61 MU), April 12 (98.45 MU), April 13 (100.30 MU), April 14 (100.08 MU) and April 15 (93.29 MU).

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