Mumbai will not be spared by power shortage this year.
Chairman of Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) Dr Pramod Deo said the city has grim days ahead in view of unforeseen electricity demand-supply gap.
"I'm not too optimistic about the situation," Deo said, addressing a session on 'Emerging Power Scenario in Maharashtra — the way forward' at a power summit organised by the Indian Merchants' Chamber on Saturday.
So far, the city has managed to get uninterrupted power supply even as the rest of the state reels under daily loadshedding from four to 14 hours.
The city is protected by an islanding system that ensures uninterrupted power supply from the state grid when demand keeps fluctuating.
Currently, Mumbai's demand is 2,100 MW which the suppliers Tata Power Company, Reliance Energy Limited and the state-owned power utility have been able to meet along with additional supply from the Centre.
However, with the demand going up during summer, the authorities are not too sure whether they would be able to match the supply. The result will be power cuts during peak hours. In a city like Mumbai, which is the hub of India's commercial activities and has several skyscrapers, it could mean chaos.
MERC, the state's top energy regulatory body, has been directing every possible conservation measures for the city but it has yielded little results for lack of consumer participation.
Last summer, the city faced 300 MW shortfall in power supply which the distributors managed to plug with timely assistance from the Centre. The city is likely to face further short supply with demand-supply gap widening.
The state government, however, insisted it will adopt measures so that Mumbai need not face dark days. Reacting to Deo's statement, State Energy Minister Dilip Walse-Patil said the state would buy 500-700 MW from other sources.
"Though this will cost us more, I think it would cater to Mumbai's increased power demand during summer."
He said the city would not face any problem in the summer of 2008 because by that time the state utility can supply more power to Mumbai. "We'll add about 2400 MW by next summer."
Deo has advised the government to opt for distributed generation. "They come cheap and the facility can come up within 10 months. The high generation costs could be recovered through a reliability surcharge of 42 paisa/unit," Deo said.
This model has been successfully implemented in Pune. "Similar model could be effective for Mumbai as well," Deo said.
Avoiding any comment on the errors that the government had made in the past in the power sector (it didn't add any generation capacity), Deo said the state now needed to focus on short-term measures to offer relief to the people. He said MERC would send an advisory to the government.