Long and sporadic power cuts returned on Sunday to haunt the national capital reeling under a heat wave, prompting the AAP government to call an emergency meeting of the three electricity distribution companies (discoms) and mull an advisory asking Delhiites to switch off appliances like air conditioners during peak hours.
The CEOs of Delhi’s three discoms will meet power minister Satyendra Jain on Monday, who said the outages were not the result of power shortage but the lack of proper distribution infrastructure. Sources said a heavy penalty will be imposed on the discoms for unscheduled power cuts at a time when the temperature has been soaring to new highs.
Sunday’s maximum was recorded at 43.5 degree Celsius, just a degree below Saturday’s temperature which was the season’s highest so far. The met department has predicted worse days ahead with the mercury level likely to hit 44 degrees on Monday. By Thursday and Friday, it may rise to 45 degrees.
Along with the temperature, the temper of Delhiites too has been rising. “If resorting to power cuts is the AAP government’s way of ensuring that our consumption doesn’t exceed 400 units (ceiling for 50% subsidy) then it is certainly not the way to go about it. We have been facing power cuts constantly for the past few days and discoms have just one excuse — there is a local fault,” BS Vohra, president of East Delhi RWAs Joint Front said.
Outages occurred in Vasant Kunj, Dwarka, Rajouri Garden and Siddharth Enclave in south Delhi and in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar and Krishna Nagar among other areas.
Parts of west Delhi too experienced power cuts.
While generation of more power to meet the rising demand seems to be the obvious solution, discoms have reportedly said there is no need for it. “Power discoms have not cited any shortage so far. We had asked them if they want gas for plants to produce more power and they assured us that there is no need,” Jain told HT, blaming the discoms for failing to improve the distribution infrastructure over the years.
“The infrastructure is not adequate to take the peak load which has been increasing constantly. Though there is no shortage, the distribution network is not good enough and hence power cuts are taking place due to local faults,” he said.
Hoping to flatten the city’s demand – which is expected to reach an all-time high of 6,300-6,400 MW this summer – his department will soon issue an advisory asking Delhiites to cut back on the use of appliances like air conditioners and washing machines during peak hours of 10am to noon and 2-5pm. The government also plans to incentivise the same by introducing differential power tariff for peak and non-peak hours. Saturday’s peak demand crossed 5,000 MW and came down marginally to 4,863 MW on Sunday when most offices are shut.
Discoms blamed the rising temperature and increasing demand from unauthorised colonies. “BSES discoms have made adequate power to meet the peak power demand of over 34 lakh consumers during the summer months. There has been a sudden increase in the temperature in last few days. At times, outages happen on account of shutdowns to repair local faults, which tend to increase in extreme heat conditions. The constraints in augmentation of electricity network in unauthorised and congested colonies are also a matter of concern. These affect the discoms ability to maintain stable supply in such areas,” they said.