Mumbai braces for power-hungry summer as temperatures soar

With mercury touching 35 degrees, power experts expect demand to surge by nearly 1,000 MW by March – equivalent to powering another island city; as demand for electricity rises, power bills to also follow same trajectory

This summer, power companies will break out into a sweat and not just due to the temperatures. With the mercury soaring through the second half of February, the city and suburbs are expected to consume an excess of nearly 1,000 MW of electricity, an amount enough to power an entire second island city.

A BEST official said blooming skyscrapers in the island city have contributed to the steep hike in power consumption. File pic for representation
A BEST official said blooming skyscrapers in the island city have contributed to the steep hike in power consumption. File pic for representation

Temperatures have started touching 35 degrees, though it is not yet unpleasant as the evening passes. The present power demand in Mumbai is hovering around 2,500 MW daily it is largely around this figure all through the winters. “The demand during summers starting March reaches 3,400 MW or more.

This will be a burning issue as the demand will increase,” said Ashok Pendse, a veteran power expert. The island city which gets its power from the BEST uses up 1,000 MW while the rest goes to the suburbs. Last year, the city had consumed 3,100 MW during the same period.

Only three years ago, Mumbai would eat up 2,700 MW daily in the summers. This is now expected to shoot up to 3,300-3,400 MW, thanks to the vertical expansion of the city. With the BMC’s new proposed Development Plan for 2014, mooting a floor space index (FSI) of up to 8 to allow the spurt of skyscrapers in island city and the suburbs, distribution companies are wondering how they will meet the demand.

“There is already a sudden surge in power consumption due to the increasing towers coming up all through the island city where commercial offices are being set up. More FSI would only increase the burden on power supply,” said a BEST supply division official, on condition of anonymity.

“Up to 3,300 MW can be manageable, but beyond that will be a concern,” said a BEST official. One of the worrying factors is the shaky Salsette-Chembur transmission line. Sources said this line is used to get power from outside, into the city. But, due to the lack of upgradation, it has failed to perform to the optimum.

In fact, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) had also chided Tata Power and Reliance Infrastructure for not resolving their differences and doing little to improve transmission. Both companies maintain the line and the dispute, among other issues, is over who will pay for the upgradation.

Power experts pegged the current power generation for the city at around 2,500 MW; the rest is bought from the open market or other states at Rs 2.60 to Rs 3 per unit. As demand goes north, this can even touch Rs 4.5 per unit. Naturally, this will reflect in the power bills.

Power companies have already proposed hikes in tariffs due to several reasons. State distributor MSEDCL plans a 35 per cent hike, while Reliance’s hike will be between 10 and 45 per cent.

Power generated by the city

Expected power consumption of the city this summer

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