Holdups in key grid lines short-circuit the south

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Power flows to the deficit south have been restricted to 3,500-4,000 MW for the last five years due to delays in commissioning transmission lines


The country’s southern region is facing a severe power crisis, with transmission constraints bottling up power flows to the region from the rest of the country, despite the synchronous interconnection of the southern grid with the rest of the National Power Grid in January this year.


While the country’s overall peaking shortage — defined as shortfall in generation capacity during the time when the electricity consumption is at the maximum — has come down, the shortage in the south is increasing and is headed for the worst situation in five years.


In FY15, the peaking shortage of the south will be 9,254 MW against all India shortage of 3,027 MW (which is lower due to a surplus in the western region), according to the Load Generation Balance Report for 2014-15 released by Central Electricity Authority (CEA).


The extent of the peaking shortages in the south offer an indication of the precarious power situation for a region that is a key industrial and manufacturing hub and where consumers, by and large, can pay higher tariffs for power.


Experts feel that even the 9,254 MW could be an underestimate and the chronic shortage have badly stymied industrial growth in the region over the last couple of years.


Power flows to the deficit south have been restricted to 3,500-4,000 MW for the last five years due to transmission constraints, which have built up as a result of delays in over a dozen key transmission lines that were to facilitate flow of power to the southern region, in addition to the crucial Raichur–Solapur 765kV single circuit line that was commissioned on December 31, 2013.


The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had written to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late last year for ensuring the removal of transmission constraints to enable higher power imports to her state.
With no action taken, the chief minister is learnt to have now written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for expediting a crucial 6,000MW HVDC line from Raigarh, Chhattisgarh to Pugalur, Tamil Nadu, a line that has been under discussion between the CEA and state-owned transmission utility Power Grid Corporation (PGCIL) for the last one year but where action on the ground is yet to be initiated.


The lines delayed include the Raichur– Solapur 765kV second circuit line, a crucial buffer for transferring additional power to the southern region.


Added to this, are delays in associated lines and substation infrastructure that are under construction for sending additional power to south, including those from the western region: the Raipur–Wardha 765 kV double circuit (D/C) line, Wardha–Aurangabad 765 kV D/C line, Solapur-Pune 765 kV (single circuit) S/C line and the Pune and Aurangabad 765kV sub stations.


In the southern region, those facing delays include Gooty–Madhugiri 400 kV D/C line, Madhugiri–Yelhanka 400 kV D/C line, Raichur–Kurnool 765 kV S/C line, Kurnool–Thiruvalam 765 kV D/C line, Thiruvalam 765/400 kV substation, Vijayawada–Nellore 400 kV D/C line, Thiruvalam–Sholinganallur 400kV D/C line.


There are delays in additional planned lines, including the 765 kV D/C Wardha–Hyderabad (via Nizamabad) line that was planned nearly three years ago.


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