Amravati : Houses in darkness, patients in government hospitals and industries shut down in Andhra Pradesh shows the seriousness of the power crisis in the state. An incident in which a woman gave birth to a baby boy at a government hospital in Narsipatnam under the light of a cellphone and the severe heat stroke at several other government hospitals due to power outages. Is. From domestic to agriculture and industry, every sector is suffering due to the huge gap between demand and supply.
With power shortfall being around 40-50 million units (MU) per day, power distribution companies (discoms) have resorted to Emergency Load Relief (ELR). While officially power cuts are for an hour for the domestic sector in villages and half an hour in cities and towns, people have been complaining of power cuts for several hours every day.
The state government suddenly declared a power holiday, which brought big and small industries to a standstill.
Round-the-clock industries have been asked to reduce their power demand by 50 per cent, while others have been directed to declare a power holiday once a week in addition to their usual weekly holiday. Power utilities asked industries to do only one shift during the day.
The power holiday will adversely affect 253 industries which are working round the clock and 1,696 non-continuous industries under the purview of AP Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (APSPDCL). The government, private companies and shopping malls have been advised to use only 50 per cent air conditioners between 6 pm and 6 am and not use electricity for promotional hoardings and signboards.
This is the first time since the bifurcation of united Andhra Pradesh that the state has been forced to declare a power holiday.
Against the daily demand of 220-230 MU, power companies are able to supply only 180 MU. According to the Department of Energy, the crisis is due to increased demand and is in line with the national trend.
The rise in demand has been attributed to the resumption of economic activities after the COVID-19 situation is brought under control, agricultural activity and the peak of summer conditions earlier this year. States like Gujarat have also been forced to declare power holidays, officials said.
However, Andhra Pradesh is the only state in South India which is unable to meet the growing demand. The remaining four states and one union territory are supplying uninterrupted power supply to domestic and industrial sectors.
Andhra Pradesh’s neighboring Telangana is successfully meeting the demand which has become the highest since 2014. Telangana’s daily electricity demand has increased to 265 MU in recent days.
Andhra Pradesh had no power cuts after October 2014 but has now become the only state in the region unable to meet the increased demand.
The power demand across South India as on 7 April was 1,221 MU. The total deficit was 28.71 MU, out of which Andhra Pradesh alone had a deficit of 23.53 MU.
Though Andhra Pradesh has more resources than other states, it is finding itself in trouble. Experts attribute this to the lack of advance planning on the part of power utilities to meet the rising demand.
While other states were able to anticipate demand and take prompt measures to buy power from power exchanges, the Andhra Pradesh authorities clearly failed to act quickly. The rise in demand has pushed up the cost of electricity in the open market and the state is now struggling to procure it due to lack of financial resources.
Andhra Pradesh is generating 130 MU from all the resources and it gets 40-50 MU from central utilities. Among the southern states, Andhra Pradesh is considered to have the highest thermal power generation at 89.83 MU. The state also produces 7.78 MU of hydroelectric power, 3.61 MU from other resources and 27 MU of renewable energy. Unable to bridge the deficit, DISCOMS had no option but to cut back.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu blamed the Jagan Mohan Reddy government for the power crisis. According to him, people are going through unscheduled power cuts for a long time and the state government is solely responsible for this.
“The situation is pathetic. The government is unable to come to the rescue of pregnant women suffering in hospitals due to untimely power cuts.
“A kingdom that was once illumined by abundant power is now thrown into darkness and darkness. Who is responsible for slipping the state from a surplus power situation to an unprecedented deficit now,” he asked.
Chandrababu Naidu demanded that the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government should explain to the people why the state was facing frequent and prolonged power cuts.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s national general secretary Daggubati Purandeshwari has blamed the faulty policies of the YSRCP government for the current crisis. He alleged that the industrial and economic progress in the state has come to a standstill due to wrong policies adopted by the government.
“After coming to power, the YSRCP government canceled the power purchase agreement (PPA), leading to a mess. The state lost investment opportunities in power projects,” said the former Union minister. He believes that the announcement of a power holiday will bring doom for the industrial sector.
However, Energy Secretary B. Sridhar believes that the power shortage is temporary. According to him, shortage of coal, huge increase in power consumption and increasing demand for open market power purchase in the country created the situation. He is confident that the state will remove this shortcoming by the end of the month.
Power generation at Krishnapatnam thermal station has come to a standstill due to shortage of coal. With the demand for electricity rising across the country, there is stiff competition for purchasing power in the open market.
Officials say that earlier 14,000 MW of power was available in power exchanges, but now it has come down to 2,000 MW. The cost per unit has increased from Rs 4 earlier to Rs 12. The state still bought 1,551 million units during March by spending Rs 1,258 crore.
As demand from the agriculture sector is likely to subside by the end of the month and more wind power is likely to be available, officials expect normalcy to be restored soon. They also hope that the cost of electricity in the open market will come down, making it easier for power utilities to bridge losses, if any.