Power woes: Infrastructure & line capacity a bigger problem than coal shortage

Over the past year, with the shortage of coal and gas supply forcing power plants to drastically cut the amount of electricity they can generate, even forcing some to stay idle, another problem has added to power producers’ woes. During January, 632 million units could not be supplied to end-customers across various states in India despite there being generating stations willing and able to supply it. This amounts to around 7.5% of the country’s overall power supply deficit for the month — a seemingly small number till you realise that it is also equivalent to more than half of Tamil Nadu’s power shortage for the month; and about 40% of Andhra’s. Both states are reeling under a major power crisis. The culprit here is the Indian power sector’s ‘middle mile’ problem — simply put, the lack of enough capacity on power lines to move power generated to end-customers, wherever they are in the country. So far it has been a largely invisible issue, but of late it has become more acute. “This is a problem that we have witnessed at a growing pace in the last 2-3 years,” says Rajesh Mediratta, director, business development at Indian Energy Exchange (IEX).

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