NEA planning to increase load-shedding hours

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    Nov 16, 2015- The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has been considering extending the load-shedding hours as demand for electricity has been swelling significantly with the approach of the winter season. The new schedule will be released next week.

    The state-owned power company said it could lengthen the hours of rolling blackouts slightly from the current six hours a day. “We will try to maintain the maximum load-shedding hours at 10 hours this winter,” said Mukesh Raj Kafle, managing director of the NEA.

    Due to the closure of factories in the Tarai as a result of the banda called by Madhes-based parties, power demand from the industrial sector has dropped sharply, according to the NEA. Last year, the maximum load-shedding was 12 hours a day.

    As almost all the hydropower projects in the country are run-of-the-river types and their power generation falls sharply in the winter with a reduced flow of water in the rivers, power shortages have become a normal phenomenon in the country in the cold months.

    The expected increase in the power shortage this winter will be especially  hard on the people as many have been depending on electricity to cook their food after LPG shipments from India stopped due to an undeclared blockade.

    “There is no match in the demand and supply ratio of energy. However, we will be making every possible effort to keep load-shedding hours on the lower side,” said Mukesh Raj Kafle, managing director of the NEA. According to him, the state-owned agency is planning to keep load-shedding under 10 hours.

    “However, we can only do this if things move as per our plan.” According to the Distribution and Consumer Service Directorate of the NEA, its power plants are currently generating around 380 MW of energy. The electricity generated by independent power producers (IPPs) is estimated to amount to 185 MW. Apart from the Kulekhani Hydropower Project, all of them are run-of-the-river types and their contribution to the grid falls significantly during the winter season. “The output of run-of-the-river plants drops to around 30 percent during the winter,” Kafle said.

    Power imports from India presently amount to around 215 MW. The NEA can increase imports up to 250 MW under the agreement made with India. According to Kafle, it is planning to import another 90 MW via cross-border transmission lines to ease the deficit. The construction of cross-border power lines is expected to be completed within December, allowing Nepal to import more energy. The additional imports, however, will only be enough to cover the shortfall that emerged after the destruction of private hydropower projects by the April 25 earthquake. The integrated national grid lost 93 MW of energy after the tremor knocked out these plants.

    The NEA said it was making efforts to avoid load-shedding during the mornings and evenings when people need power to cook food, but that might be a difficult task. “This is peak hour when energy demand rises massively compared to other times. However, our aim is to distribute energy rationally to make it as convenient as possible for the people,” Kafle said.

    Khadga Bahadur Bisht, president of the Independent Power Producers Association Nepal (Ippan), said that the government could keep load-shedding within 10 hours by expanding the area that will be affected by the rolling blackout. “Also, many factories are not functioning at present. This will make it easier for the NEA to supply energy to the general public,” Bisht said.

    The aim to reduce power outage hours during peak time, however, may be difficult to achieve as the demand for electricity far exceeds the supply, according to Bisht. He said that people may have to make their schedule based on the power outage chart published by the NEA.

    – Govt aims to increase energy imports from India by 90 MW from December-end

    – NEA plans to limit load-shedding to 10 hours daily during the winter

    – Avoiding load-shedding in the mornings and evenings may not be possible due to very high load

    Source : The Kathmandu Post