Limiting power cuts to 70 hours ‘not easy’The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has said it will limit load shedding to 70 hours per week (up to 11 hours a day) during winter, but doing so might not be so easy.
The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has said it will limit load shedding to 70 hours per week (up to 11 hours a day) during winter, but doing so might not be so easy.
NEA plans to import 90MW of additional energy through the Dhalkebhar-Muzafarpur cross-border transmission line by completing its construction within a month
to prevent any hike in
load shedding hours. But the bad news is it is the only plan the NEA has.
NEA says erection of five towers in Dhanusha and Mahottari districts is left for the completion of the project, and it will complete the job by the next 15-20 days. However, chances of the plan materialising are slim, with the Samyukta Loktantrik Madheshi Morcha on Friday deciding to intensify their protests and stating they would not allow government officials to work in the Tarai region.
“If we get to work, we can make this transmission line functional within 15-20 days. In fact, we aim to start importing additional energy from India by mid-January 2016,” said Kanhaiya Manandhar, deputy managing director and head of transmission directorate at NEA. “Almost all the platforms are ready. We just need to complete a small portion of the task on the Nepali side of the border. Everything on the Indian side has been completed.”
However, when asked whether NEA had any alternative plans, Manandhar said: “We do not have.”
NEA Managing Director Mukesh Raj Kafle too expressed confidence about the completion of the project in the next 15-20 days, but he conceded the disturbances in the movement of trucks carrying construction materials would make things difficult.
Even under-construction hydropower projects that are close to completion have been halted due to the shortage of fuel and construction materials, while the combined generation capacity of operational run-of-the-river projects have come down to around 340MW due to a decrease in the flow of water in rivers.
Projects developed by Independent Power Producers’ (IPPs) generate around 150MW, while Indian imports stand at 220MW. With the NEA-projected the demand remaining at around 1,250MW, Nepal will face a power deficit of 550MW. The deficit is likely to increase, with the generation capacity expected to decrease further as winter advances.
Also, the NEA system faces a shortage of 75-80MW electricity due to damage to project caused by the April 25 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. Repair works on the projects have been affected due to the shortage of fuel and construction materials, according to NEA.
Moreover, the electricity demand has increased significantly, with the rise in the use of electric appliances amid unavailability of cooking gas and other petroleum products.
“On one hand, we have power shortage, and on the other, we have weak a distribution mechanism,” said head of NEA’s distribution directorate Ram Chandra Pandey. He added the focus should be more on strengthening the distribution mechanism.
The dramatic rise in the electricity use is evident with the fact that explosions of transformers due to overload has become common in the country, especially in the Valley. The demand is expected to rise further as the winter sets in when people are more dependent on electricity for various purposes such a heating. Moreover, shorter days mean more use of electricity for lighting up their homes and offices.