KSEB keeping its fingers crossed

Heavy rainfall and other factors have helped State from crisis

With the shortage of coal that has hit power stations yet to be sorted out, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has scrambled to avoid power restrictions, while keeping a close watch on the developments.

Although the KSEB has managed the situation without power restrictions thus far, a sharper dip in supply from central generating stations would warrant tight measures, officials of the state utility said. The State has been recording a daily shortage of 120 MW-200 MW in central supply during peak consumption hours.

The utility has urged its 1.3 crore consumers to reduce electricity usage during the evening hours when consumption peaks, B. Ashok, Chairman and Managing Director, KSEB, said. “If the shortage goes beyond 400 MW or the crisis persists over an extended period, we will have to go in for restrictions. For now, we have asked consumers to keep the usage down,” he said.

Multiple factors have so far helped Kerala elude the worst of the crisis. Only three of the power plants supplying power to Kerala have been hit by coal shortage, according to Mr. Ashok. Moreover, the State has been receiving heavy rainfall, leaving the hydel reservoirs 83% full [generation capability 3,430 million units (MU)] as on September 9. This is also the highest for the day in recent years. The Idukki reservoir, the biggest in the State, is 83% full.

That said, the coal crisis has yet again revealed the extent to which Kerala is dependent on ‘imported’ thermal power. The total consumption on Saturday stood at 71.42 MU, and net imports at 36.9 MU.

Over the years, internal generation has been increased in Kerala, but so has consumption. The Power Department data reveal that internal consumption stood at 4,599.09 MU in 2016-17 against the annual consumption at 23,815.13 MU. In 2020-21, it was respectively 7,637.8 MU and 25,145.9 MU. Consequently, the State has also been spending more on power purchases.

The money spent on purchases rose from ₹7,393.32 crore in 2016-17 to ₹8,057.9 crore in 2020-21.

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