Slow onset of monsoon, rising demand lead to increase in power outages in UP, Jharkhand and Bengal

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New Delhi | Updated: June 26, 2018 7:34:30 AM

Power outages in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal are longer this summer compared to 2017. The national average is 7 hours and 52 minutes in May this year, 7 minutes longer than the same month last year.

Urban areas across the country are experiencing longer power outages with rising power demand. (Representational image)

Power outages in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal are longer this summer compared to 2017. The national average is 7 hours and 52 minutes in May this year, 7 minutes longer than the same month last year.

While states like Bihar, Haryana and Punjab have managed to reduce the duration of outage from last year, time spans are nonetheless higher than the national average at 11:52 hours, 24.12 hours and 9.38 hours, respectively.

Urban areas across the country are experiencing longer power outages with rising power demand and a slow onset of the monsoon, according to information from government-hosted Urja portal.

The average monthly power cut duration in May increased by 7 minutes from the same period last year to 7:52 hours, data from 1,376 IT-enabled towns, monitored by the Urja portal, showed.

The outage duration in towns in Jharkhand nearly doubled to 95.21 hours in May. Uttar Pradesh recorded an average of 8:43 hours of outages in the urban areas, up from 7:11 hours last year. Power cuts in towns of West Bengal increased by 130 minutes to 10:43 hours. Rajasthan’s average outage duration for May 2017 could not be confirmed, but its towns were in the dark for 17:53 hours last month.

Power-cut duration in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana remained less than half the national average. Data for Tamil Nadu and Odisha were not available for comparison.

To disincentivise discoms from resorting to outages to compensate supply-demand imbalance, the power ministry’s latest draft amendment to the National Tariff Policy 2016 proposes to introduce a penalty mechanism against discoms for power-cuts other than in force majeure conditions or technical faults. It
also mandates discoms to tie up long-/medium-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) to meet their annual average power requirement, reducing reliance on short-term markets.

Net power procured by Uttar Pradesh from short-term markets in FY18 was 4,405 MU – the fifth highest in the country after Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Gujarat. Bihar and Jharkhand sourced more than 20% of their total energy requirement from the short-term market, which, as noted by analysts at SBICAP Securities, clearly indicates that there is a pressing need for them to sign long-term PPAs.

Among all the states mentioned above, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand reported the worst power supply situation in FY18. There was deficit of 1,749 million units (MU), or 1.5%, of electricity in Uttar Pradesh against the FY18 requirement.

The all-India deficit on this account was 0.7%. There was also an 11%, or 2,213 MW, capacity shortage when electricity demand peaked in the state. The peak shortage across the country was only 2%.

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