Punjab News Only a good monsoon can bail out Powercom


Prime VIP
Chandigarh, June 22

The demand for power witnessed a dramatic fall after a squall, that had all the salients of a pre-monsoon hailstorm, lashed parts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh this afternoon, bringing cheer to both farmers and power engineers in the region.

KD Chaudhary, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Punjab Powercom, in one-to-one session with The Tribune says “consumer satisfaction on power supply for the next four to six weeks will depend mainly upon the strength and vigour of the south-west monsoon. “Even if the monsoon is below normal, we will ensure that power cuts do not exceed a maximum of four hours a day besides promising eight hours of uninterrupted supply to 65-70 per cent of our agricultural consumers. For the remaining 30-35 per cent of the agricultural consumers we are assuring a minimum of six hours of uninterrupted power supply,” he says maintaining that because of increased demand, transmission and distribution systems “are getting overloaded”.

“In urban areas, it is the air-conditioner factor that is responsible for the overloading of the system necessitating some localised power cuts over and above the scheduled power cuts for urban consumers. But we are trying to ensure that nowhere the power cut should exceed a maximum of four hours in a 24-hour cycle. “By next summer, we will give all categories of our consumers a much better quality of power supply as we are in the process of implementing a system upgradation programme at a cost of Rs 1,400 crore in 47 towns of the state. Though this money is coming as a loan, a part of it will be turned into a grant on the commissioning of the programme,” says Chaudhary.

Since power generation, distribution and transmission are emerging sectors, the supply lines for the equipment and machinery are overbooked. “If consumers in Punjab experienced shorter or no power cuts in early summer this year, it is primarily because of our management as we had the material and equipment organised and procured in time.

“In the next paddy season, we will guarantee eight-hour uninterrupted quality power supply to the entire farm sector. Punjab has signed power buying agreements to get 230 lakh units a day of which 100 lakh units come from the Power Trading Corporation of India. We are buying power at varying rates on short-term and long-term agreements besides unscheduled grid withdrawals. The total power purchase agreements are of Rs 1,800 crore and in the case of a good monsoon, the cost may come down to Rs 1,200 crore. This year we have organised 600 MW of additional power supply as compared to last year,” adds the CMD of Powercom.

He admits that the biggest challenge for the newly formed Powercom after the reorganisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board has been customer satisfaction. “We may have to take some hard and even harsh decisions to safeguard the interests of consumers. Requirements for paddy will stabilise in another 10 to 15 days after which the normal supply to both the urban and industrial sectors will be restored.”