ANDHRA PRADESH

Drought hits Transco bottomline

HYDERABAD March 30. The drought situation in the State has had its impact on the finances of the Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh resulting in increased power purchase cost to the tune of Rs 464 crores. In addition, the corporation had to suffer losses of the order of over Rs. 200 crores on account of excess power drawals by the agriculture sector due to failure of the monsoon.

This was stated by the chairman and managing director of the AP Transco, Rachel Chatterjee, at a meeting held on Sunday to review the impact of drought and the measures taken to meet the demand. With no hopes of any generation from the hydel projects after April 10, the meeting had decided to come out with a contingency plan within a week to meet the growing demand in the context of zero hydel availability.

Reviewing the situation, Ms. Chatterjee said that the total agricultural consumption during the last 11 months ending February 2002 had increased to 11,252 million units, as against the estimate of 9,936 MU for the full year by the AP Electricity Regulatory Commission. This was due to the decreased availability of the hydel energy, which was of the order of 3,020 MU, against 5,647 MU during the same period the previous year. The fall in the hydel-thermal mix from 50:50 to 12:88 had forced the corporation to buy the costly thermal power to compensate the shortfall in the low-cost hydel energy. The Transco chairman and MD said that despite the shortage of hydel generation, the corporation had ensured adequate power supply to agriculture so that crops were not damaged in any part of the State during the kharif as well as the rabi seasons. In this context, she said that the cost to serve basis for the agriculture sector as assessed by the APERC for the current year was 238 paise per kilowatt hours for generation, while the average tariff was only to the tune of 33 paise.

Admitting that the finances of the power utilities had been adversely affected by the unprecedented drought, the Transco chief, however, asserted that the utilities did not resort to forcible collections from farmers. On the progress of measures initiated to improve the supply, she said that while there was 10 to 15 per cent improvement in the voltage profile in the past few years, the investments made by the utilities resulted in augmenting the capacity to meet the demand as well as reduce the transmission losses to 7.75 per cent, against the APERC target of 8 per cent.

According to a Transco press release, Ms. Chatterjee appealed to the farming community to extend cooperation to the field officials to serve them better.

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