Electricity demand is up 20 percent this year, but generation fails to meet the state’s requirement. Andhra Pradesh suffers a shortage of 40 million units of electricity every day. While Hyderabad faces two-hour power cuts a day, far-flung areas suffer six to ten hour blackouts, according to an industry body representing smaller industries in that state.
The state has ordered industrial units, that use up to 74HP of power, to shut operations between 6pm and 10pm; and wants factories to consumer under 23,000 units a month “This is good because 70 percent of all factories in the state operate a morning shift and very small units do not consumer more than 23,000 units in a month,” said J.Nageswara Rao, secretary, Federation of Andhra Pradesh Small Industries Associations (FAPSSIA).
Factories that need more than 74 HP to run operations have been ordered to consume only 60 percent of the power allocated to them. For instance, Rao’s firm Padmavathy Poly Packages has a 130HP line. The entire production line cannot operate on a given day because the first section of production requires about 60 HP, and he cannot draw more than 78HP in a day.
Factories that need 200HP or more to function can operate only for 18 days in a month. Rao said.
Failure to comply attracts heavy penalties across industry categories, Rao said.
“Industrial units in the state are losing business. But there is no short term solution to the problem. Things could improve in the coming years if projects such as solar power generation, and the north-south electricity gird connectivity are aggressively pursued,” Rao said.
The crisis began a year ago, at the height of the protest for a separate state of Telangana, when 60,000 workers at Singareni Collieries joined the Telangana agitation and stayed away from work for a month, said Rao. Singareni produces 1.5 lakh tonnes of coal a day and supplies coal to thermal power plants in the state. Thermal power production dropped, he said
Earlier this year, the state used up its water reserves to generate enough hydroelectricity for farm lands, who were promised and supplied with seven hours of continuous power during the Kharif agriculture season, Rao said.
Lower the expected monsoon rains have left the Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar reservoirs with very little water, enough to supply to homes and farm lands in the coming months, Rao said.
Gas-fired power plants in the state are operating below capacity owing to a short-suppply of gas. “Reliance Industries has deceived the people of Andhra Pradesh. The state has provision to generate 2900 MW from gas-based power plants, but these plants now receive only about 35 percent of the promised gas supply. As a result, power generation from these plants is just 500-600 MW,” Rao said.
Earlier this month, India’s power minister M Veerappa Moily visited Raichur, Karnataka where he broke ground for a hydraulic power grid project, which will transmit electricity from the north of India to the south, according to news reports.