Saturday, March 10, 2007

Is there really a power shortage in Mumbai??

The Electricity companies (and the Government?) are desperately trying to fool the Public on three issues:

1. Shortage in Mumbai – Real??
2. Costly purchase issue – Warranted??
3. Multi-Year Tariff (MYT) Petition Data – Sufficient??

1. Shortage in Mumbai - Real ??
Is the shortage real? Or is it hype created to divert attention from other issues? Are we barking up the wrong tree... forcing us to make certain wrong knee-jerk reactions?? Decide for yourself.

Power to Mumbai city and suburbs is supplied by Tata, BEST, REL and MahaVitaran. The power supplied by these 4 suppliers, is generated by Tata (1777 MW) and REL (500 MW), while. MahaVitaran buys their power from MahaGenco and other central/state units. In case of any outage (shutdown) of Tata or REL, they draw “stand-by” power from MahaVitaran/MahaGenco.

Now the what is the requirement of Power in Mumbai? There are various numbers being thrown about – 2200 MW, 2250MW, 2300 MW, 2350 MW. Your guess is as good as mine!

It seems Bhandup/Mulund areas alone consumes 150 MW (as per DNA 16.2.2007) but that is supplied by MahaVitaran, and hence only the rest is sourced from Tata & REL.

Taking various levels of requirements, here is whether there is a shortage (or surplus!) is Mumbai.

Total Mumbai

Maha Vitaran areas

Tata/REL BEST areas

Tata/REL generation

Surplus / (Shortage)





227 surplus





177 surplus





127 surplus





77 surplus

Is Mumbai really responsible for “tripping” the State Grid?

It was mentioned in some report that since one of Tata’s units (140 MW, if I’m not mistaken) was down, this has led Tata to “overdraw” from MahaVitaran (based on the “stand-by” arrangement).

Now, even if Tata did draw power for Mumbai, how could it “destabilize” the State network?

Someone’s got their arithmetic all wrong here (and it could even be me !!) .. but if I'm NOT, then the worrying issue is .. is this INTENTIONAL ??? .. and WHO are the real beneficiaries ??

2. Costly Purchase Issue

Which brings us to the shortage all across Maharashtra. Now even that may not really be so real!

The MSEB network (MahaGenco-MahaTransco-MahaVitaran) is responsible for electricity supply all over Maharashtra, except Mumbai city (excl Mulund/Bhandup areas).

MahaGenco generates electricity, MahaTransco transmits it and MahaVitaran distributes it. MahaGenco sells ONLY to MahaVitaran,but MahaVitaran buys from other generators also (NTPC, etc). to cover up the shortfall.

The generation capacity of Maharashtra is as follows:
Tata … 1,777 MW
REL …… 500 MW
MahaGenco* … 9,592 MW (* after derating)
Total … 11,869 MW

What is Maharashtra’s requirement? .. and what is the shortage? Does anyone know for sure??

These companies like to give figures in MW (Megawatts) and sometimes in MUs (Million Units), just to confuse the public. While Plant capacities are in MW, we are supplied electricity in units (and charged Rs. Per kWh).

The correlation is this:
If a generation company has a plant of say 500 MW. It means it can generate 500 MW in one hour. Meaning it can generate 500,000 kW (1 MW = 1000 kW) in 1 hour.

Therefore in a year (365 days) it can generate:
500,000 kW x 24 hours x 365 days = 4380,000,000 units (i.e. 4380 MUs).

Now, the plant has a downtime also and it suffers on account of less Load (Plant Load factor %). So, if the same plant, as above, has a Plant Load Factor of 98.70%, the actual generation is as follows:
4380MUs x 0.987 PLF = 4323 MUs Gross Generation.

The plant itself uses electricity, auxillary consumption (8-10%). This is also factored in to arrive at Net Generation. In our example, if Aux Cons. is 7.59%, then Net Generation is now:
4323 MUs x 0.9241 (i.e. 100-7.59) = 3995 MUs

It is this 3995 MUs that goes into the Distribution Network.

There is also a Loss in the Distribution Network, called Transmission & Distribution (T&D)Loss. This loss results in less electricity actually reaching the consumers (paying consumers, that is!).

Did you know that loss across the MSEB network is close to 40%
… so even if the State buys costly power from outside at Rs. 6-7 per unit, to meet the shortfall of 15000 MUs (?) only 60% of this will actually reach the consumers !!!

Till we don’t plug the leaks, we will forever, be paying much MORE than what we should. It is better for the State Government to deploy these funds to reduce the T&D loss.

If the State is so magnanimous and has so much of money, it may as well advance the amount as a Subsidy, instead of asking US to pay at these higher rates.

Its all very simple to make grandiose statements of buying expensive power, with SOMEONE ELSE’s MONEY !!

3. Multi-Year Tariff (MYT) Petition Data – Sufficient??

Do you think that your participation in the current
MERC Public Hearings is going to make a difference? Do you know enough to comment/objection/make suggestions??

All electricity companies have filed their Multi-Year Year (MYT) Tariff Petitions, with MERC, based on the detailed Regulations laid out the MERC Tariff Regulations, 2005.

These companies were to file these petitions on/before 30.11.2006 (120 days before the implementation date of 1.4.2007). However all of them have filed these LATE – some as late as January 2007 – and yet MERC has graciously condoned their delay.

In fact, the MYT was to be implemented from 1.4.2006, but on a request from these companies, MERC moved the date one year ahead (to 1.4.2007) and still these companies were late in filing.

Public Hearings
MERC dutifully called for Public Hearings under section 64(3) of the Electricity Act, 2003, since tariff cannot be fixed without first taking the Public’s views.

Now there are no Regulations laid out for these Public Hearings and hence there is no stipulation on the amount of time to be given to the Public.

As a result, this month we have a spate of hearings, back to back. BEST, MahaGenco and MahaTransco are done and next up are MahaVitaran (March 16th), followed by Tata Power (March 20th) and Reliance Energy (March 21st). Please do attend these.

Voluminous Data
This late filing and hurried manner of presenting Petitions and conducting Public Hearings, has resulted in voluminous Petitions being made in record time.

We have to study over 3165 pages...

> MahaGenco 670 pages
> MahaTransco 415 pages
> MahaVitaran 430 pages
> BEST 600 pages
> Tata Power 650 pages
> Reliance Energy 400 pages

There’s also a CD with each set.

I think I must be one of the few people in Mumbai who has bought ALL of these. Yes, you have to BUY these. It cost me Rs. 950 (all are Rs. 150 each, except REL which is Rs. 200).

Now we, the Public, are expected to read these, understand these, analyse these, check for errors, make suggestions, send responses to these companies, make 5 copies of our responses and send them to
MERCall within 15-20 days!!!

Incorrect and Insufficient Data

There are ridiculous data gaps and inconsistencies. Here is one example:
BEST and REL both, buy power from Tata. See the following data items that appear on "Power Purchase for 2007-08".

As per BEST’s Petition (page 12, Table 3) it is 4,376 MU
As per Tata’s Petition (page E-20, Table 1-19) it is 5,003 MU

As per REL’s Petition (page 5, Table 3 & 4) it is 3,981 MU
As per Tata’s Petition (page E-20, Table 1-19) it is 3,127 MU

How are we supposed to comment (or object) to such inconsistencies? I guess the electricity companies never thought that someone would cross check the figures with the other companies' submissions!!

I had raised this point at the BEST Public Hearing on 27.2.2007, that it was a waste of public money, time and effort to decide on BEST’s petition without first deciding/hearing Tata’s petition first.

It makes sense to decide on the Generator's first and then the Distributor's ... but no one is listening!

Along with 35 other individuals and organisations, I had asked
MERC to postpone these public hearings – and we are still hoping they will accede to the Public's request.

And as far as the electricity companies are concerned, there is a famous quotation about … not being able to fool ALL the people ALL the time …right ?

Well ... and that's how I feel ...

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