Power demand reaches danger levels as Mumbaikars try to cool down

As temperature rises, the city’s demand for electricity is reaching close to 3,500 MW, beyond which power distributors will be forced to buy electricity in the open market

The rising mercury is making life difficult, both for Mumbaikars as well as power companies. The electricity consumption in the city has witnessed a sharp spike in the last few days, as temperatures have soared to the 40 degree Celsius mark.

The water pipeline burst at Mumbai-Pune Expressway near Khalapur toll naka may have caused problems for authorities, but kids made the most of the ‘water fountain’ to cool down on Sunday.
Beating the heat: The water pipeline burst at Mumbai-Pune Expressway near Khalapur toll naka may have caused problems for authorities, but kids made the most of the ‘water fountain’ to cool down on Sunday. Pic/Sameer Markande

The power demand has escalated in the last week, touching almost 3,400 MW, 500 MW more than normal consumption. The situation is expected to get worse in the peak summer months of April and May. Last year, power consumption reached 3,300 MW in April.

Sources said that the demand is mostly at its peak between 1 pm and 5 pm, when people prefer to stay inside their offices or homes and air conditioners are working on full blast. The cooling systems in offices, commercial centres and complexes have escalated the overall demand in the city by 700 MW.

However, power consumption is running at a dangerously high level. Power expert Ashok Pendse said, “Anything beyond 3,500 MW will be a problem for the city, as power distributors will have to buy electricity from the open market.”

Buying power simply means getting it from other states, which costs anywhere between Rs 6 to Rs 8 per unit, depending on the demand. “At present, electricity is available at around R3. However, if the temperature continues to rise, it will definitely increase demand and will subsequently hike the price of electricity in the open market,” said another power expert.

Unfortunately, this is not the only challenge. The poor transmission network, which carries electricity from power plants and grids to the city, is another problem. Sources claim that power distributors have not made any efforts to improve the network, which will also restrict it to get more electricity from other states, if the city demands it.

For example, the Kalwa-salsette line has been tripped for strengthening the lines since March 2, which is expected to go on for 45 days. Another transmission line Trombay-Kalwa is also out for technical reasons.

Mumbaikars have already expressed their displeasure over power distributors — Tata Power, Reliance Infrastructure and BEST Undertaking — hiking their tariff rates. The three companies have proposed close to 50 per cent hike recently.

Summer of 2014

>> The expected demand on Mumbai system between April 2014 and July 2014 was 3,510 MW

>> There was a shortage of 460 MW during peaks hours last summer

>> The power plant of Unit 8 underwent technical failure in January 2014, causing additional burden of 1,893 MW

>> The aggregate maximum capacity that can be transmitted to Mumbai system through various transmission lines is 3,140 MW

3,350 MW Power consumption on March 26 during peak hours

3,325 MW Power consumption on March 27 during peak hours

2,100 MW Power consumption during non-peak hours (after 5 pm)

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