KOCHI: Invoke the blessings of rain gods or the state will plunge into darkness within 10 days. With the Southwest monsoon failing to deliver, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is encountering an unprecedented power crisis as water level in major reservoirs is inching closer to dead storage.
The water level in Idukki reservoir, the source for Kerala’s biggest power generator, plummeted to 2,305 ft on Saturday, recording a 44 ft decline from the level recorded on the same day last year.
“The water level in our reservoirs has dipped to the maximum drawdown level. We are managing the situation with the 3 feet water remaining in Idukki reservoir. With the existing infrastructure, we can avail of 70 per cent of the state’s power needs from the national power grid. We have to generate 30 per cent locally to meet the demand. If it doesn’t rain for the next 10 days, the state will encounter a grave power crisis and there is no other option but to impose power cuts on a rotation basis,” KSEB chairman NS Pillai told Express.
Dead storage refers to water in a dam that cannot be drained naturally through spillway for power generation.
According to KSEB, Kerala’s average power consumption is 75 million units per day. With more consumers installing air conditioners, the state has been witnessing a spike in consumption, which peaks to 82 million units during harsh summer days. If the hot weather continues, electricity consumption will also increase, which will force the KSEB to extend the duration of the load shedding, said an officer.
“Power is available in National Power Exchange Ltd (NPEX) but we lack the infrastructure to bring it. There are 96 blocks in NPEX and we have to purchase from these blocks. The rate fluctuates from Rs 1 to Rs 10 per unit. During peak hours when consumption is high, the rate also increases. We purchase power at Rs 6-Rs 7 per unit. The problem is not the availability of power but lack of power corridors,” said Pillai.
The delay in commissioning the 147-km-long Edamon-Kochi 400 KV power transmission line is posing hurdles to the KSEB’s efforts to enhance power availability in the state, he said.
“Around 99.9 per cent of the work for the Rs 1,000-crore power transmission network being implemented by the Power Grid Corporation of India has been completed. A Division Bench of the HC has ordered a change in alignment after a litigant challenged the installation of a tower on his land. We have decided to approach the SC and if we get a favourable order, the work will be completed within a fortnight,” said Pillai.