Crisis: Power Minister Piyush Goyal warns Delhi to brace for more blackouts

Written by Reuters | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 10 2014, 22:51pm hrs
Delhi powerBJP minister blames Congress for the Delhi power mess. (PTI)
Residents in capital city Delhi should brace for more power cuts amid scorching summer heat, the country's Power Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday, warning that dilapidated power grids could not cope with the extra electricity needed to meet demand.

North India has endured a heatwave in the last week, with temperatures in some parts of Delhi reaching a 62-year high.

The surge in demand from residents cranking up their air conditioning, and damage to power lines during a recent storm, has overwhelmed the grid, sparking outtages across North India and forcing Delhi to introduce emergency power-saving measures.

Piyush Goyal, minister of state for power, coal, and new and renewable energy, said "inadequate" transmission lines meant Delhi could absorb 400 megawatts of power on top of its existing 5,300 MW, falling short of current peak demand of 5,800 MW.

"Clearly the power grid as it stands today is outdated, needs augmentation and modernisation and may repeatedly have outtages and tripping problems," he told a press conference after meeting with local power officials.

Three weeks after winning a national election on pledges to boost the economy and improve basic services, Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces a big challenge meeting the growing demands for reliable and affordable power and water.

In Uttar Pradesh state, where less than half of homes have power, angry locals set electricity substations on fire and took power company officials hostage at the weekend in protest at the recent blackouts, media reports said.

Goyal said engineers in Delhi were working 24 hours a day to fix broken lines, while the government has ordered GAIL and diverted Dabhol power plant natural gas to provide extra gas to a huge plant near the city functioning at a fifth of its capacity.

Normal power supply to Delhi to be restored in 15 days: Goyal

(PTI) As Delhi reeled under long spells of power outages and scorching summer heat, Power Minister Piyush Goyal today said it will take 15 days to restore normal power supply even as temporary measures to boost generation were put in place.

Goyal said the Centre has drawn up an action plan to ease the power crisis in the city with short-term measures to generate 400 megawatts of additional power by tonight.

Speaking after a two-and-a-half hour emergency meeting with Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and senior executives of Delhi Transco, Power Grid Corporation and power utilities, the minister warned that dilapidated power grids could not cope with the extra electricity needed to meet demand.

Inadequate transmission lines meant Delhi could absorb 400 MW of power on top of its existing 5,300 MW, falling short of current peak demand of 5,800 MW.

He blamed the "massive policy paralysis, poor decision making" of the previous Delhi government for the problems in power sector.

The Centre has offered its assistance to the Delhi government and its utilities to restore power transmission systems in mission mode, the minister said.

Goyal, however, added that transmission lines damaged by last month's severe storm will be repaired in 15 days.

Besides repairing broken lines within 24 hours, the government has ordered GAIL to provide extra natural gas to power plants in the national capital.

North India has endured a heatwave in the last week, with temperatures in some parts of Delhi reaching a 62-year high, sending power demand surging.

The meeting was called amid protests in several parts of the city over long and recurrent outages in the scorching summer heat.

Goyal said state-run NTPC Ltd has been asked to transfer some of its natural gas to power projects run by the Delhi government to increase local generation by 400 MW.

Also, state gas utility GAIL India Ltd will divert 0.9 million standard cubic meters a day of domestic gas from the now-shut Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra to units in Delhi to generate an additional 218 MW, an oil ministry official said.

This will help BSES Rajdhani, BSES Yamuna and Tata Power, the companies that supply electricity in Delhi, as they are unable to draw power from projects located in other states because of the damage to transmission lines.

The discoms have also been directed to come up with daily bulletins on the schedule of outages at 8 am every day.

"A holistic vision and plan for Delhi has been non-existent for a decade. Lack of decision making, lack of investment in infrastructure and lack of forward planning in last 12 years is responsible for the problem," Goyal said.

NTPC will divert gas to Bawana power plant which has a capacity of 1,500 MW but is generating only 290 MW. The additional gas will help generate 400 MW of power.

"There is no shortage of power; only transmission and distribution is a problem," he said.

Goyal also promised that the Bawana-Rohini power transmission line, which was damaged by the storm in the capital and adjoining states on May 30, will be restored by tonight.

"Hopefully, we will be able to meet the peak demand of today," he added. All other transmission lines will be repaired in the next 15 days.

Delhi's current requirement of power is 5,800 MW against which availability is 5,300 MW, he said.

Delhi can absorb only 400 MW, he said, adding that if a better transmission network had been built over the past 10 years, fuel could have been provided for producing an additional 1,100 MW.

Three transmission towers will be restored by Power Grid Corporation of India, the central transmission utility, in the next seven days, which will benefit the east Delhi areas.

"BSES and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, the two discoms in Delhi, have been instructed to become more responsive to power complaints," Goyal said, adding that all their offices will work 24x7 till the power crisis ends.

The discoms will provide a three-day schedule of planned outages and issue a daily bulletin of the electricity situation in the capital.

The national capital is battling a power crisis amid acute temperatures. The maximum is expected to climb to about 46 degrees Celsius today, according to the MeT department.

Yesterday, the maximum was 45.5 degrees Celsius, the highest level in the month of June in 10 years. In Delhi's Palam area, the day temperature settled at 47.6 degrees Celsius, a day after registering 47.8 degrees Celsius, the hottest in 62 years.