Poor rain in catchment areas of TN cuts hydro power output by half

After 2,505.23 MUs in 2016-17, the quantum of hydro power generated in Tamil Nadu in 2023-24 is the lowest in the last seven years.
Image used for representational purposes.
Image used for representational purposes.Express

CHENNAI: At a time when the demand for electricity is on the rise, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tan gedco) has recorded a 50% drop in hydro power generation in 2023-24 compared to the previous year. Tangedco produced 3,023 million units (MUs) in 2023-24 as against 6,174 million units generated in 2022-23.

The power produced from water sources was almost thousand million units lower than the target of 4,000 million units set by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for the year. Tangedco officials said poor monsoon in the western regions of the state and Karnataka’s refusal to release the quantum of Cauvery water due for Tamil Nadu led to the fall in hydro power generation. After 2,505.23 MUs in 2016-17, the quantum of hydro power generated in Tamil Nadu in 2023-24 is the lowest in the last seven years.

A senior Tangedco official said, “The state-owned hydro power plants typically generate 1,500 MUs during the southwest monsoon season (July to October). But we failed to reach even 50% of the target. Lack of water from Karnataka sources also impacted power generation in the western zone.” Despite surplus rainfall in the northern and southern districts, scanty rainfall in western districts such as Coimbatore, Nilgiris, Salem and Dharmapuri, where most of the hydro power plants are located, affected the output, the Tangedco official said.

Highlighting the role of western districts in hydroelectric power generation, another official said, “Hydropower units in the Nilgiris play a major role. The total installed capacity of Tamil Nadu’s hydropower stations is 2,321.90 MW, and power stations in the Nilgiris alone have a capacity of 833 MW. Of this, Kundah power units have an installed capacity of 540 MW,” he said.

The fall in power generation through this green source may also adversely impact the finances of the debt-hit state power utility, sources said.

Tangedco pays Rs 13.4k cr loan interest

“While Tangedco’s income increased from Rs 62,799.35 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 82,399.91 crore in 2022-23, the cost of procuring power went up from Rs 39,365.23 crore to Rs 50,990.78 crore for the period.

With the utility yet to finalise its balance sheet, the power procurement cost is projected to reach Rs 65,000 crore in 2023-24,” the official said. Tangedco, on an average, pays Rs 13,450.60 crore as interest for loans to various financial institutions every year. With the dip in power production, the public entity may be forced to shell out more for buying power, sources said.

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