Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has just learnt what Delhiites have known all along: the private power distribution companies are causing power cuts arbitrarily even when there is enough power in the system for them to supply.
Now, Dikshit has asked the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) to probe the matter and impose “exemplary penalty” on the culprit ditscoms.
“It has been brought to notice…that the distribution companies have been resorting to load shedding even when there has been sufficient availability of power,” read a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office. “The government is very concerned about such deficiency of service to the consumers.”
According to reports from residents, areas serviced by Anil Ambani’s Reliance-controlled BSES are the worst affected of random, long power cuts. Comparatively, the areas under the Tata-operated North Delhi Power Limited (NDPL) are much better off, facing only maintenance-related outages.
On Monday, areas like Tagore Garden, parts of Dwarka in West, Safdarjung Enclave, CR Park, and parts of Ashram faced long power cuts.
“There was no power from 9.30 am to 2 pm. The helplines did not respond. So we have no idea why this happened,” said Ashok Kanojia, a resident of Tagore Garden.
This when Delhi’s peak power demand was a modest 3900 MW.
The distcoms, however, blamed Delhi Transco (the government’s power wheeling utility) for the cuts.
“Several transformers of Transco shut down in the afternoon. So we faced problems. There were under-frequency relays in the grid as well,” said a BSES official requesting anonymity.
Sources said what has irked the CM is a report from her officials that suggests that distcoms are still selling power to other states to make money, keeping Delhiites power-starved.
“They save power causing unwarranted load-shedding and creat a surplus which is sold off buyers willing to pay a hefty price,” said a power department official.
At times, the distcoms didn’t buy enough electricity to meet the increased demand as the purchase price was high.
Long power cuts kept the city on the boil in the last two months as residents smashed vehicles, burnt tyres and blocked roads in protest.
BSES Rajdhani, BSES Yamuna and NDPL— the three discoms—then had said a delayed monsoon had forced the neighbouring states to hold back electricity meant for Delhi.
The DERC is already conducting a probe on the power crisis in the past two months.