KARNATAKA

KPTCL breathes a sigh of relief

BANGALORE, JUNE 1. Bangaloreans might complain of frequent power cuts, but this summer may well go down in history as one of the most unusual in terms of power consumption.

Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) officials say such highs and lows have not been experienced before. Consumption peaked at 100 million units (mu) a day in February this year. That level of consumption continued through March and, on some days, the State used as much as 105 mu a day.

But the situation cooled down somewhat by April and dropped even lower in May. On May 30, for instance, KPTCL recorded a consumption of just 58.77 mu. "We have not noticed such an unusual trend in power usage before," observed the KPTCL Chief Engineer, Load Despatch Centre (LDC), N. Vijayanarasimha. In contrast, data on the KPTCL website revealed that on May 30, 2003, consumption was 85.08 mu, he said.

The drop in consumption was a big relief for KPTCL and could not have come sooner, the official pointed out. "At the moment, quite a few generating stations are off the grid because they have gone in for annual maintenance. Some units of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation are out, as is one unit each at Ramagundam and Kaiga. But because domestic and agricultural use is low right now, we have actually asked Raichur Thermal Power Station to back down some units. They are producing 900 MW right now (as against the usual 1,470 MW). But we are quite comfortable," Mr. Vijayanarasimha said.

Month of records

May has already been called the month of records. Not only has it been the `coolest' month, with temperatures being the lowest since 1962, it has also been the `wettest' month, receiving the most rainfall. Both factors contributed to the drop in power consumption, the KPTCL official noted.

Besides, the southwest monsoon hit the southern parts of the State on May 23, much earlier than usual. That was the date KPTCL stopped buying power from the eastern region (ER), Mr. Vijayanarasimha said.

But in February, the situation was so bad, that "we had to buy 600 MW from the ER for 15 days. And in April, we bought 400 MW. We had planned to buy a similar quantity in May as well but, because of the cooler weather, we ended up using 200 MW," he added.