Assam stares at power crisis

- Vanished rains hit hydel projects
Guwahati, June 23c: The Assam State Electricity Board today warned of an unprecedented power crisis if the rainless climate continued and pleaded with the people to conserve energy to help tide over the crunch.
The peak hour demand has touched 900MW because of the humid weather, said ASEB chairman A.K. Sachan. The power board has been able to supply only 750MW to 800 MW.
Even at night, the power demand is 650MW, compared to 450MW last year.
“Availability of power outside Assam is limited because the prevailing weather conditions are similar in other states too. The power generation capacity of hydel power stations in other northeastern states has gone down because of inadequate rainfall. A drastic reduction in the water level of rivers has resulted in Ranganadi (in Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh) producing only 193 million units from March to May as compared to 282 million units during the same period in 2008.
“The situation worsened this month as the daily power generation of the Ranganadi project has gone down to 3 million units against last year’s figure of 7 million units. The installed capacity of Ranganadi is 400MW and Assam gets 200MW of this under normal circumstances,” Sachan said.
He said the situation is similar in other hydel power projects like Loktak hydel power project in Manipur and Doyang project in Nagaland.
“Assam shares 50 per cent of the power generated by hydel power projects outside the state and adequate rainfall in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland is a must. We normally purchase power from different parts of country. But many of the states, including power surplus states like West Bengal and Orissa, are facing power shortage because of inadequate rainfall this year. If rainfall is insufficient, the situation may go beyond our control,” Sachan said.
According to the rainfall data available with the Regional Meteorological Centre, Guwahati, Assam has recorded 31 per cent deficit, Arunachal Pradesh 35 per cent, Manipur 38 per cent, Mizoram 36 per cent and Tripura 21 per cent between May 25 and June 19.
The meteorological centre has said if the region receives abundant rainfall in July, it will be able to make up for the deficit. “Otherwise, certain parts of the region will experience a drought-like situation,” said the director of the Regional Meteorological Centre, B.K. Handique.
Sachan said even though the ASEB is procuring power from all possible sources, including from the energy exchange programme, people must also co-operate and adopt energy conservation practices.
ASEB even suggested a few tips to conserve power: reduce air-conditioning energy by 40 per cent by covering the windows, switch off lights and fans when not in use, use fluorescent tubelights and CFL, keep refrigerators away from all sources of heat and turn off office equipment and computers when not in use.
The board yesterday bought 14 lakh units of power under the energy exchange programme. Each unit costs Rs 10.45.
The board also plans to purchase more power from Gujarat and Tamil Nadu shortly.