Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Time for batti bandh

During winter last year I'd posted about the impending power crisis for Mumbai during the peak summer days. As the chart below shows, we consume much, much more (3,100MW) than we generate (2,200MW).

(Source: today's TOI, e-paper link here which might not be active for long)

No wonder then that the spectre of load-shedding and power cuts looms large in the summer, which is almost here. Last year, eastern suburbs like Bhandup and Mulund suffered power cuts of close to 4 hours every day with neighbouring Dombivli and Ambarnath going through a nightmarish 7-8hours of power cut. Unfortunately, this year promises nothing different.

The notion of "24x7" power for Mumbai is a myth which, at best, is restricted to a few western suburbs and of course, the island city. And as compared to the treatment that all the other cities in Maharashtra get, Mumbai looks like a spoilt child.

So, how do our three power companies (Reliance Energy, Tata Power and BEST) meet this shortfall? By buying it from other states and the Central Government. The good news then is that all three companies have firmed up sourcing agreements for meeting this shortfall. Albeit not entirely. As the chart shows below, unmet requirement will reach 200MW in June which could imply power cuts for the city, unless the companies firm up this shortfall till then.

The bad news is that this extra power will come at a cost. And a very high cost.
BEST additional general manager S A Puranik said early planning and procurement deals ensured Mumbai would get adequate power to cope with the demand. “But we will be paying a high price of Rs 9 per unit for power purchased from outside. It is almost three times the cost of power generated by city utilities,’’ [Source]
So, if you thought that rising food and fuel prices were your only concerns, get set for a higher bill, and perhaps even power cuts this summer. Batti bandh now?