Thiruvananthapuram: KSEB Limited, it now seems, cannot hold its poise for long. It has now been confirmed that the 400 MW of additional power the public utility had contracted to start flowing in from March this year will not reach the state. Reason: work on two transmission lines of the southern power corridor, originally scheduled to be commissioned in October 2016, has not even reached half-way stage.
This leaves the power utility just two options: either impose load-shedding or evacuate the exorbitantly-priced power from Kayamkulam NTPC. While the first option would be politically risky, the second option could push KSEBL’s monthly deficit from Rs 75 crore to nearly Rs 200 crore. While the power sourced from the open market costs an average of Rs 3.80 per unit, the Kayamkulam power is priced at Rs 7.27 per unit. The deteriorating fiscal position could, therefore, force the government to give its nod for a tariff hike.
Three medium-term contracts that had been supplying a total of 400 MW to the state will expire on February 28. But as compensation, KSEBL had long before entered into a long-term contract for 450 MW. This power will start coming in from March 1. In a normal year, this would have been more than enough, and KSEBL officials could have patted themselves on the back for their timely planning.
Placing a demand for an additional 400 MW was an emergency measure prompted by the unexpected failure of both the monsoons in 2016.
“Finding that the southwest monsoon was inadequate, KSEBL contracted 200 MW in July, and later in September when it was clear that the northeast, too, would disappoint another 200 MW was contracted from power traders in the north,” a top KSEBL source said.
The deficit will now have to be bridged. Increasing hydel generation to narrow the deficit has been ruled out. At the moment, considering the need to maintain a minimum level in the state’s reservoirs, hydel generation has been kept at the lowest possible level. Normally, during this time of the year, 15-20 million units are generated from hydel stations. But this year, generation has been drawn down to 5-7 MU and this has to be sustained till summer....