It's started. The first of the summer power cuts hit large parts of the city on Wednesday, providing ominous indication of what lies in store for Delhi in the next few months.
Power companies said there was a shortfall of 500 megawatt, which caused the outage. It was blamed on a technical snag at the Badarpur powerhouse. The problem was fixed only by evening.
However, even if Badarpur behaves itself over the next few weeks, it may not be good enough to ensure uninterrupted power supply. As the mercury begins moving upwards, there will be pressure on power supply, distribution system and the grid.
One or all of them may trip one by one or simultaneously, plunging all or most of the city into darkness, as it does several times every summer. Power officials don’t think this summer is going to be any better.
Around 11 am, the snag at the Badapur Thermal Power Station surfaced, causing five hours of power cuts across the city. Worst affected were south, east, west and north-west Delhi. “We had to shut the plant in the morning because of a technical fault. It caused tripping of a few transmission lines. The situation has almost normalised now,” said VN Choudhary, plant general manager.
Experts blamed the situation on the bad shape of the city's five power plants. Poor maintenance and shortage of gas have badly affected production.
On Wednesday, for instance, around 5.30 pm, the five power plants did not generate even 50 per cent of their installed capacity.
The generation was just 718 MW against the installed capacity of 1,698 MW. And the power demand at that time was 2176 MW.
The city was dependent on central power stations to meet over 60 per cent of its requirement.
“When you are dependent on outstation plants to meet such a huge quantum of your requirement there is bound to be a problem,” said a senior power department official.
“Power demand goes up in all the northern states during this time and if you do not tie up for power well in advance you are bound to suffer.”
Officials said there was little hope that the situation would improve in the coming years. At least not till 2010-2011, when some big-ticket plants become operational.
These include the 1,500 MW plant at Bawana and the 1,500 MW plant at Jhajjar in Haryana. Delhi has got a 750 MW share in the Jhajjar plant.
But again, by then the demand too would increase, isn't it?