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Power grid police to get more teeth soon

business Updated: Nov 04, 2012 22:24 IST
Anupama Airy

To prevent a repeat of the recent grid collapse that stuck India in June and left 600 million people without electricity for several hours, the ministry of power is expected to shortly unveil measures that will legally empower agencies that regulate and control operations of India's electricity grid.

"We will shortly announce measures with enabling legal provisions to empower the Regional Load Dispatch Centres (RLDCs) to take action against erring states that overdraw electricity from the grid, which leads to grid collapses," a senior government official said.

Giving teeth to the regulators is important as India is scheduled to get a fully integrated national power grid in January 2014, when the southern region gets added to the existing grid network that comprises of the northern, western and eastern regions.

The integration will enable surplus power to be shifted to meet demand in deficit regions, but the increased interconnection can also increase system instability if not accompanied by sufficient regulation.

The official said preventing grid collapses such as those seen this year is on the priority list of the new minister of state for power, Jyotiraditya Scindia.

At present, RLDCs do not have legal power to disconnect load to states that overdraw power from the grid, and can only message state load dispatch centers to take corrective action.

Deputy Planning Commission chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told Scindia in a recent letter that

"There have been collapses in other countries, including the US, but never affecting more than 10 million people (against the 600 million that were hit in India)."

Ahluwalia said, "the problem is similar in some respects to what we have seen in the international financial system (in 2008), where inter-connectedness without an efficient regulatory system led to collapse."