The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will increase load-shedding by 11 hours a week from Monday, thanks to poor rainfall and a cut in power supply from India. People will now have to cope with 46 hours of darkness a week from the existing 35 hours. As per the new schedule, there will be seven hours of power cut daily for four days and six hours for three days in a week.
The NEA, however, has not increased the load-shedding hours for industrial consumers.
NEA officials said they were forced to increase the outage hours due to the decline in electricity supply from India by half. “Supply from India has come down to 35 MW from the earlier 75 MW,” said Bhuwan Kumar Chettri, head of the NEA’s System Operation Division.
In the wake of the recent power crash, the Indian government has lowered power export to Nepal. With the Indian side hinting at their inability to ensure normal supply for some more time, the NEA has no other options but to increase load-shedding hours, according to NEA officials.
Depleting water level in Indra Sarowar, the reservoir of the 60 MW Kulekhani Hydroelectric Power Station, is another reason for the increased power outage.
Due to the extended dry spell, the power station—backup power source for the NEA—may not generate the required electricity to meet the power requirements in the coming months, said station officials.
Rabindra Mahaseth, the chief of the Kulekhani project, said that as of Sunday afternoon water level at Kulekhani stood at 1,514.35 metres above sea level, nearly 16 metres below the reservoir’s capacity.
During this time last year, the water level at the reservoir had surpassed its limit. The station had to place sandbags to contain the water. The station was put into operation round-the-clock, even during the monsoon. This time around, the power house is being operated only during peak hours. Places like Daman, Agra, Palung, Phakehl, Bajrabarahi, Tistung and Chitlang did not receive sufficient rainfall this monsoon.
This resulted in shortage of water at Kulekhani. Chakhel and Palung rivers are the main source of water for the reservoir. “The water level at Kulekhani is rising by a meagre 25 centimetres a day. At such a rate, it is unlikely for the reservoir to fill up,” Mahaseth said, adding that the Kulekhani project can generate only around 200,000 units of electricity per day. Nepal’s power demand has increased by 100MW over the last year, according to NEA officials. “The demand has increased by about 1 million units a day,” said an NEA source. “Electricity demand at present is 15 million units per day, up from about 13.5 million units last year.”