Power crisis misunderstood


The above was precisely the heading of a newspaper article in November 2001. I repeat the first three sentences:

As it has always been, the present power crisis and the (upcoming) price increases will be blamed on the weather and the increase in international oil prices. The weather gods, unable to defend themselves, will silently take the blame. Dry weather is not the cause for the crisis. High(er) oil prices are not the reason for the (upcoming) price increases.

Now, 16 years later, the Minister of Power and Renewable Energy sought Cabinet approval to buy diesel engines to produce 100 Megawatt electricity, exactly as it was done in 1996, 1999 to 2001, and more recently in 2016. Additionally, 60 Megawatt of similar diesel power plants are already operational.

Yet more, a further 170 Megawatt of oil power plants retired have been recalled. Furthermore, all the oil power plants in the country are operating on full power for the past several months. So, 170+60+100 = 330 MW; we have only 170MW more to get to 500 Megawatt Sampur power plant, the President and the Prime Minister cancelled in 2015.

So, in a few months, another contract can be given for 170 Megawatt, and then the replacement of Sampur with diesel power plants would be complete. See how beautifully and skilfully the professional view is overtaken by business interests, and see how precisely the numbers add up.

To do what? To produce electricity at three times the cost! Look at the table. It is not my data, but the data from PUCSL, stamped, sealed and approved by the guardian of the electricity sector, and its customers.

The fundamental reason for the power crises that come up every now and then, is the non-implementation of power plant projects on schedule. Instead of pushing CEB to build the correct types of power plants at the correct time, governments at all times have tried to dilute the responsibility, appoint committees to build power plants (which obviously cannot build power plants), and when the crisis finally arrives, run away, leaving the Energy Minister to take the blame.

Why are people so interested to build power plants, cancel power plants, not build power plants, call for bids and not build power plants? The common man thinks it is the love for the environment, that causes such actions. Then when the Energy Minister tells Cabinet that he wants to purchase emergency (diesel) power, why do we not hear of any protests? Why isn’t the President asking Prime Minister Modi to “convert” the very polluting diesel power plant to operate on (non-existent) gas? Oh why? Tell us. Oh why?


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