THE CENTRE’S move to link the power-starved northern grid with the power-surplus eastern grid may put it in a politically disadvantageous position in Uttar Pradesh, whereas to the Mulayam Singh Government, which faces Assembly polls a few month later, the same has come as a great boon.
In fact, the Centre could not have chosen a politically more inappropriate time to link the grids making more electricity available to the power-starved northern states including UP. The Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), a Government of India undertaking, had two weeks ago, linked the northern grid with the eastern and the western grids as a step towards evolution of the national grid. UP is connected to the northern grid.
Prior to the grid linkage, the frequency of the grid used to be quite low due to the power shortage, hovering around 48 hertz or a little more. As per rules, UP or any other state for that matter, is now allowed to overdraw power from the grid if its frequency is below 49 hertz. And if allowed to make a limited overdraw, one unit of electricity imported during low frequency costs Rs 5 against the normal rates of Rs 2. Only recently, the Central Electrical Authority (CEA) had imposed Rs 1 lakh fine on the UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) for drawing more power from the grid than its share.
The linkage of the grids has changed the situation. Significantly ever since the linkage, the grid frequency has shot up and has never come below 49 hertz. It is always above 49 hertz and at times crosses 50 hertz as the grid gets the connected frequency of around 60,000 mw of power. The significance of this is, that now the UPPCL can overdraw or purchase as much power from the NTPC etc as it can as there is no ban on overdraw during high frequency. Second, the power that used to come to it at the rate of Rs 5 per unit during low frequency is now available at just Rs 2 or 3 per unit.
So taking advantage of the favourable situation, the UPPCL has starting making more over-drawl of electricity to provide sufficient electricity to the consumers.
Not wondering then, there is hardly any power cuts in the state despite there being any significant let-up in the demand. “There is no rostering as we have enough power these days,” said UPPCL MD Avnish Awasthi. He said that UP had 20 per cent more power this year compared to the previous year. But he claimed that in-house power generation had also upped by around 20 million units.
Chief General Manager (Transmission) Ashok Kumar said linkage of the grid had also provided an additional corridor to purchase power via eastern grid. “Earlier, we could not purchase more power even if it was available in the market as there was lack of ‘path’ to bring it. But now we can easily get at least 500 mw of power from various sources through the power trading companies,” he explained.
There is a strong possibility of the UPPCL purchasing more and more electricity to offset power cuts in the election year. The overjoyed officers have already started placing more power purchase orders to the power trading companies.
Ironically, the state government would take political mileage and credit for improving the power situation, though it would not have been possible without the interlinking of the grids.