Several localities in Delhi saw power cuts on Friday as peak-hour electricity consumption touched a record-high for March, raising fears of a severe crisis during what is predicted to be one of the hottest summers ever in the capital.
Delhi also recorded a maximum temperature of 38.6 degree Celsius, the highest for March since 2010, Met office said.
As Delhi sweated under an unsually blazing Sun, use of fans and ACs have increased drastically across the city of 17 million people over the past few days.
On Friday, the peak power consumption touched 4,139 MW, the highest ever recorded on a March day in Delhi, officials said. The earlier high was recorded in March last year when consumption was 3,617 MW.
With demand for power expected to rise sharply to more than 6,500 MW this year during peak summer, there are fears that power cuts could rise drastucally. Last year in May-June, power demand had breached the 6,000-MW mark for the first time, leading to long power cuts.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had slammed discoms for the outages and threatened to cancel their licenses if they didn’t fix the problem in a week.
Though the discoms and Delhi Transco say they are much better prepared this year, a number of areas faced power cuts on Thursday and Friday. These areas include Sarvodaya Enclave, Lajpat Nagar, Okhla, Ramesh Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Subhash Nagar, Majnu Ka Tila, Kondli, Burari, Najafgarh and Kishangarh.
“We take outage reports from power utilities twice a day and yes, there have been minor cuts of 45 minutes or one hour in some areas. That is because of the sudden spurt in consumption,” Delhi power secretary Varsha Joshi told Hindustan Times.
Officials said peak power demand touched 4,139 MW at 7:22 pm on March 31, an increase of more than 14% from the peak demand on any March day in 2016.
A discom official said that though Delhi has surplus power, up to 7,000 MW, a sudden increase in peak demand leads to the system coming under stress because of excessive heating of power lines.
These lines require a low-stress period to cool so that they can function optimally.
When the average demand remains consistently high, the lines are unable to recover, leading to local faults that make them trip, he said. On top of that, poor maintenance makes the lines more vulnerable.
“There are a number of reasons due to which power cuts happen, some of which are not in anyone’s control. For example, we had a case wheen some areas saw power cuts as rats nibbled four cables of 220 KV. Our focus is on improving restoration time,” said Joshi.
She said that the government and discoms have installed 500 transformers this time to improve power supply.