A steep rise of 23% in power demand as compared to that of last year has baffled the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited, where the management foresees an acute power shortage in the coming days.
The power situation in the state is expected to be grim during the summer season as the state power utility has projected a demand and supply gap of up to 31% during the period April to September despite arranging power from all sources.
Punjab has bought nearly 3,200 million units of power at a cost of Rs 1,300 crore for the summer and paddy season.
The peak load has already crossed the figure of 7,000 MW, whereas Punjab has a capacity to transmit up to a maximum of 8,500 MW.
This demand is without the power supply to the agricultural sector, as the paddy season supply will start from June 1. "With a steep rise in demand, we foresee trouble. The matter has been discussed with the CMD for his immediate intervention," said a senior official dealing with power supply.
Agricultural load in the paddy season is said to remain around 2,000 MWs.
The state has failed to add to the existing power generation in the past six years of the SAD-BJP rule, while the demand has almost doubled.
Also, the PSPCL can buy only up to 1,950 MW of power from outside the state on a daily basis against a demand of allowing 3,000 MW made by the PSPCL to the union power ministry. "This means we can't buy more power from outside. So we have to impose power cuts," said an official.
"Owing to the rising temperature, we have seen the power demand go up to 1,550 lakh units per day from the 1,265 lakh units 10 days ago," Punjab State Power Corporation Limited director (generation) GS Chhabra said.
Last year, the power demand during the corresponding period stood at 1,300 lakh units.
Despite the PSPCL officials claiming that there were no scheduled load-shedding taking place, reports from several areas in the state point to unscheduled power cuts of up to three to four hours per day.
However, PSPCL CMD KD Chaudhry is hopeful that they will ensure a better supply this year as compared to that of the last year. "Last year, the monsoon had failed, which led to a steep hike in demand. This year, the monsoon is predicted to remain above normal, so I am hopeful that the PSPCL would meet the rising demand as it has made enough arrangements," he said.
However, he admitted that the rising demand was an issue with the PSPCL and officials had informed him about it.
Passing the buck on to the Centre for not allowing the PSPCL to bring more power from outside the state, he said the PSPCL had money to bring power, but the northern grid did not allow them as they had fixed the limit to bring power from outside up to 1,950 MW besides from our resources and central allocations. "I met the union power minister to increase the limit to 3,000 MW, but he failed to do so."
Punjab installed transmission capacity up to 8,500 MW
Load already touches 7,000 MW
Expected load from agriculture sector 2,000 MW to 2,500 MW