The responsibility of operating power grids is that of the regional electricity board and the load despatch centres. Over the past couple of years, these organisations have seen a change in the command structure — from the Central Electricity Authority to a Central Transmission Utility under the Powergrid. Powergrid incidentally also maintains and owns the inter-state transmission lines. While the onus of explaining regional grid failures lies on the CTU, the question that arises is, if, for instance the fault rests with Powergrid, what action can CTU take against Powergrid
In the case of the western grid breakdown, the load despatch centre should not have allowed overloading of the transmission line to Gujarat in the first place. While Gujarat could shed load to balance demand and supply of power in the state and thereby island itself, power in the transmission line went into the transmission lines of Maharashtra, thereby overloading those lines and tripping the entire system — resulting in the breakdown. Having said that, under the command of the CEA earlier, directions were never pooh-poohed away. In fact, they were followed fairly well. After changes in the command structure, the overall role of grid discipline falls under the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. The trend witnessed is that adverse orders issued by the Commission are challenged in court — resulting in either delayed action or no action at all.
No wonder grid collapses are happening so frequently. While this may be passed off as a process of adjustment of the entire regulatory system, one needs to ask, how long will this take and how many more breakdowns and collapses do we need before some action is taken to reverse this trend