With the mercury continuing to soar, if Mumbai’s daily electricity demand reaches 4,200 MW, Mumbaikars will have to face load-shedding. This is because the city’s system simply cannot get more power from outside owing to transmission constraints. “It could be touch and go, but it will be a concern if the higher demand persists. Load shedding will be the only option, not for long but for some time,” said independent power expert Ashok Pendse. For all of last week, the city’s power demand hovered around 3,750 MW and reached a peak of 3,850 MW. Pendse said that every 2-degree jump in temperature translates into an additional demand of 150 MW.
He added the threat would loom large in the peak demand months of scorching summer as well as in October till the city’s additional transmission corridors are built. “It depends on weather conditions. We will know exactly what happens only when the demand actually reaches 4,200 MW. Technically, only power cuts, that too during peak demand hours, can save the situation,” he said.
Speaking on how to prevent load-shedding, Pendse said optimising the use of electricity during peak hours between 3 pm and 5 pm would help. While Mumbai’s power demand has increased by 10 per cent in comparison to the corresponding period last year, coal scarcity and soaring temperatures across the state mean that measures will need to be adopted to ration its use, he said.
Of the transmission projects, Kharghar-Vikhroli 400 kV is expected to be completed by March 2023 and Aarey-Kudus HVDC (high voltage direct current) project has a deadline of 2023-2024, but it is pending scrutiny in the Supreme Court over Tata Power’s appeal against the contract awarded to Adani Electricity. Both projects have been delayed because of various reasons. They were planned and approved for augmenting the city’s transmission capacity after a major blackout some 12 years ago. Tata Power and Adani Electricity have fought legal battles related to these projects before the state regulator, appellate authority and the Apex court, and the battle for HVDC still continues before the SC.
The city’s embedded generation capacity includes the 1,430-MW Trombay plant of Tata Power and 500-MW power plant of Adani Electricity at Dahanu. However, this along with 1,500 MW imported through transmission corridors, which are already choked up, is not sufficient to meet the demand, hence additional infrastructure is required. To make matters worse, the state-owned transmission company’s infrastructure has gone kaput thrice in two years, including twice this year, enforcing power cuts in the city.
The Mumbai Urja Marg Transmission Project is also being constructed by the Ministry of Power comprising 400 kV Padgha to Kharghar transmission line, 400 kV Padgha to Navi Mumbai transmission line and 220 kV Apta to Taloja transmission line. Once operational, Mumbai Urja Marg Transmission Project will have the potential to carry more than 2,000 MW of additional power through an inter-state transmission system feed to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
When asked if they were prepared to meet the challenge, Tata Power and Adani Electricity said, in addition to embedded generation, they had contracted enough supply from outside. But when asked how they would bring the additional supply from outside when transmission constraint exists and is not in position to improve anytime soon, Tata said the transmission corridor availability to bring power from outside Mumbai was being handled by state transmission utilities. “All support is extended by Tata Power transmission,” it said, adding that the company has a diverse generation portfolio with a mix of thermal, gas, hydro, solar and wind.
“The company also has long-term supply contracts from Indonesia wherein the fuel sourcing is optimised to meet any power contingency and rising demand from the consumer. Currently, there are no transmission constraints in the Mumbai system,” the power firm said.
Adani Electricity spokesperson said, “Electricity consumption is at its peak as everyone tries to beat this unprecedented summer heat. While our teams work day and night to meet the rising demand, the same comes at a cost. Remaining conscious of the same, we humbly appeal to our consumers to consume judiciously and keep electricity bills in check this summer.”
There was no official response from the state transmission company, but a senior officer said the utility was in the process of updating infrastructure despite facing financial challenges.
Average demand of power in the city last week
Rise in city’s power consumption compared to last year