If you are already feeling the heat as summer nears, be sure that it will only get worse. And don't blame the weather gods alone!
Massive power cuts are in store for Punjab despite tall promises by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, whose oft-revised promise is now to make the state power-surplus by December 2013.
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has acquired the nod from the regulatory panel to impose cuts this summer, as it apprehends a shortage of up to 31%. Officials said that though the PSPCL has already made arrangements for buying electricity, the financial crunch might be a roadblock. A good rainy season could be the only saviour, dropping power demand and boosting supply from hydro projects.
Otherwise, the shortage at peak hours during the day could go up to 488 lakh units. "With the coal supply issue unresolved, there is bleak possibility of any upcoming power project meeting the deadline or starting before the summers," revealed a senior PCPCL official not authorised to speak on record.
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) in its permission order stated: "There is a gap between the availability and anticipated unrestricted demand of power in the state… Under these circumstances, the commission authorises PSPCL to impose power cuts, peak load hours restrictions and other regulatory measures." Though the commission has directed the PSPCL to intimate the consumers before imposing cuts, it provides a window for unscheduled outages "in emergent situations only", said the official.
The official also mentioned that last year when the Northern Power Grid had collapsed twice, the PSCPL was amongst those blamed for overdrawing: "This year we have to remain extra cautious."
Overall head: Current state
* Highest supply in 2012 was 8,750 MW; shortage 2,000 MW
* Demand increased 11% last year; 10% more needed this time
* Little hope for supply spike; shortage could be 2,700-3,000 MW
Present tense, future slipping
While the peak demand crosses 11,000 MW, Punjab's installed generation capacity is just 3,700 MW and its share in central stations is about 3,300 MW. It hopes to increase generation, but projects are slipping:
Project (all thermal) Original deadline Now
Talwandi Sabo 1,980 MW Aug 2012 Sept 2013
Goindwal Sahib 540 MW Mar 2013 June 2013
Rajpura 1,400 MW Dec 2013 On schedule