Rise in power demand pushes up outage hours

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    loadsheddingKATHMANDU, JUN 22 – As economic activity recovers and people, who had left Kathmandu after the April 25 earthquake, return, electricity demand in the Valley has returned to normal levels.

    As a result, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has hiked load-shedding hours.

    Energy consumption has increased significantly, with the valley witnessing a demand of as high as 19.2 million units on Saturday, according to NEA’s Load Dispatch Center. The peak energy demand in Kathmandu starts at around 7:40 pm lasts till around 8:30 pm, and drops gradually.

    Until a few weeks ago, the demand had fallen to around 15 million units. “Things have started improving gradually,” said Bhuvan Chhetry, chief of the Load Dispatch Centre.

    Power demand across the country stands at around 1,250MW during normal times, according to NEA. “And, the demand currently stands at 1,200MW,” Chhetry said.

    NEA said the main reason behind the rise in power demand is an increase in household consumption. “People who were living outside under tarpaulin have shifted to their homes. The use of bulbs as well as home appliances has increased,” he said. The demand outsideKathmandu is as usual as the use of home appliances like fans, air-conditioners, coolers and refrigerators is high due to scorching heat.

    “Although economic activity seem to be rebounding, that in the valley during evenings hasn’t improved much,” Chhetry said. “Once evening activities start in full swing, the demand will rise further.”

    Shopping malls, restaurants, multiplexes, bar and pub and discotheques, among others, have not opened fully. Those opened too pull down their shutters early as people’s flow has not recovered.

    Although power demand in the valley is yet to recover to normal levels, NEA has been cutting off power for around two-three hours a day to manage load. “The demand is low, but at the same time there is a shortfall of around 80-90MW supplied by Independent Power Producers (IPPs) since the earthquake,” Chhetry said. NEA currently produces around 425MW electricity, 160MW is supplied by IPPs, while around 180MW is imported from India.

    As per the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) prepared by National Planning Commission, Nepal’s energy sector has sustained losses worth Rs18.75 billion due to the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. The total cost of the physical damage on the public side is about Rs 7.18 billion, while the figure for the private sector is Rs11.5 billion.

    According to Independent Power Producers’ Association Nepal (IPPAN), 19 hydropower plants under operation have been attested by the earthquake. Energy production amounting to 109MW has been impacted, with projects like the Upper Bhotekoshi, Indrawati III, Sunkoshi, Baramchi, Upper Hadikhola, Shiuri Khola, Sipring Khola, Middle Chaku, Lower Chaku, Chaku Khola, Charnawati, Aankhu Khola I, Mailung Khola, Bhairavkunda, Jiri Khola, Radhi Khola and Chote Khola, remaining dysfunctional.

    Source : eKantipur