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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Bengal’s power surplus masks shocking reality

Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, June 10, 2013
First Published: 12:07 IST(10/6/2013) | Last Updated: 13:47 IST(10/6/2013)

India may have sweated its way through the blackouts that go hand in hand with the onslaught of summer, but West Bengal has never had it so good. Our state has earned the distinction of being the only one in the country with a power surplus during summer — for quite possibly the first time in the past 30 years!

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Even more impressive, with the monsoon already here, this surplus will soon jump beyond the astonishing 10.2% it currently stands at. And with Bengal’s hydel power units entering their most productive phase of the year, the predicted surplus of 12% to 14% seems quite an achievable target.

But here’s the catch. One of the main reasons for our relative freedom from the tyranny of load-shedding is the telling lack of demand from the industrial sector.

“The nation has been hit hard by the industrial slowdown. Bengal is no exception and the lack of industrial demand has played a role in the power surplus situation. But that isn’t the only reason. The excess power we supplied to other states during the winter has also started coming back to us during the peak demand months,” a senior state power department official told HindustanTimes on Sunday, leaving unanswered the burning question of why the state could afford to export as much as 15% of its total power output during the winter in the first place.

“The reason is very simple. There’s consistently low demand from Bengal’s industrial sector throughout the year. Domestic demand also falls sharply in winter. This domestic slump aligns perfectly with the constantly low industrial demand, leaving the state with the ability to supply power to others,” an expert from a private power utility company explained.


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