Power sector reforms can rule out blackouts
By The New Indian Express
01st August 2012 12:00 AM
The blackout on black Monday seems to have been a prelude to the catastrophe that struck 22 states and more than half the country’s population on blacker Tuesday. While Monday’s failure was attributed to Uttar Pradesh drawing excess power from the northern grid, though the official inquiry will be over only in a fortnight’s time, the exact cause of what happened on Tuesday is still in the realm of speculation. The blackout has already been described as the world’s worst with the northern, eastern and north-eastern power grids collapsing simultaneously. In retrospect, there are fundamental flaws in the system that runs the national grid and the way power is shared among states.
Had the authorities taken precautionary steps, the blackout on Tuesday could have been averted. The loss the nation has suffered on account of trains, factories and offices coming to a grinding halt can never be accounted for. However, there are certain incongruities in the two blackouts. For instance, the first blackout occurred well past midnight when the demand for power was not at its peak. Similarly, the demand for power in the north, where power consumption is relatively greater, had subsided on Tuesday because of widespread rains and the consequent lowering of temperature. Yet, a blackout occurred.
To say that the grid management system is in a shambles is to state the obvious. Overdrawing of power by some states is a perennial problem that does not have an easy solution. The fines imposed on the recalcitrant states have not been found to be a disincentive, as paying penalty is cheaper than buying power from the open market. Strangely, a system whereby any state that overdraws power beyond a limit is automatically cut off from the supply system has not yet been evolved. In simple terms, the primary concern of the power system operating company is to protect the grid. The two blackouts in succession also underline the need to introduce power sector reforms that alone can help balance the need for and supply of power.
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