THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Compared to last year, KSEB Limited has more than doubled its hydel production this December. Last year, with consumption down to below 55 million units, the public utility had drawn down its daily hydel production to below 5 million units. Now, with consumption unusually high at 65 MU in the middle of winter, KSEBL is forced to maintain a daily hydel production of nearly 15 MU. Still, KSEBL is sitting pretty as its reservoirs are nearly 75 percent full; just two months ago reservoir levels were below 40 percent. Higher hydel output but comes with its advantages. “Increased hydel production means less dependence on costly power from outside,” a top KSEBL official said.
Last year, it was the failure of both the southwest and northeast monsoons that compelled the KSEBL to rein in hydel generation. “We wanted to conserve water for the summer of 2018, and we then also had no idea how the monsoon will play out in 2018,” the official said. But for the frugal hydel strategy last year, the KSEBL had to pay through the nose. “Our power purchase costs had shot up last year,” the official said. The public utility had to shell out Rs 7-8 per unit to purchase at least 10 MU daily from outside.
But this time, power purchase costs have been dramatically controlled. The utility purchases less than one million units from outside. Nearly 50 MU are instead secured from central generating stations at an average cost of Rs 2-3 per unit. However, keeping hydel production at a high level could put the KSEBL in trouble. Already, hydel production has far outstripped the inflow into its reservoirs. If the average daily hydel generation during December is 14 MU, the inflow is half at seven million units. “If the situation continues, then we will go back to the 2016 situation when reservoirs had virtually dried out. We have to look out for the summer of 2018,” the official said.