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Tamil Nadu's ambitious plans to improve its power situation

July 05, 2012 14:04 IST

An electricity board with accumulated loss of Rs 50,000 crore, and daily power cuts of six to eight hours - this was the situation in Tamil Nadu till recently. The total loss of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board actually works out to Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) loss for every year of its existence!

However, with private players in the state installing wind mills, the power situation have improved immensely and power cuts are minimal.

Though trifurcated, TNEB in reality is still functioning as one, thanks to the stubborn stand of the babus who are against anything that leads to change or accountability.

When this correspondent visited the Board headquarter to interview the chairman, he was directed to the director (distribution), as the chairman was 'busy'. Rediff finally managed to speak to the chief engineer (planning) V R Geethanandam. Excerpts from an interview with A Ganesh Nadar.

What is the available power in Tamil Nadu?

The installed capacity is 10,364 MW.

How much power is needed in TN?

The state need 12,500 MW of power.

How do you manage the short fall?

The short fall is managed by load shedding and restrictive supply of power for some time.

How do you divide the power cuts among industries and ordinary consumers?

We do not differentiate. Everyone enjoys the same power cuts which are necessary.

What is the percentage of power supplied to farmers? It is free?

17.5 % of the total generation is supplied to the farmers free of cost.

Does the government pay or the general consumers?

The government pays for the power used by farmers.

What is the loss in transmission?

About 18% is lost in transmission.

Which means more power is lost in transmission that the power you are supplying to the farmers?

Yes but we are trying to bring down the transmission losses.

What is the world average loss in transmission?

The world average is 7%.

How are you going to achieve this?

We are taking various steps which include new lines, new power stations, new sub stations and new transformers.

What ipercentage is lost in theft?

It is a meagre loss. It will not be even one per cent.

What remedial action are you taking to prevent this?

We have a vigilance squad exclusively to prevent this, also we take severe action when it is detected.

Tamil Nadu has the largest wind energy capacity in the country. This has helped bring down power cuts in the last month. How long will this supply last?

It will last till October.

How much power is expected for Tamil Nadu from the Koodangulam Nuclear Power project?

We have been allotted 925 MW.

Once KNPP starts will the thousands of Wind Mills in that area suffer as there are not enough transmission lines to distribute their power?

Those lines were put up for Koodangulam. They will be used for Koodangulam. Koodangulam will be a continuous source of power and the wind mills are seasonal. The wind mills' power will be transmitted on different corridors but not at the expense of Koodangulam.

New lines and sub stations are already in the pipeline. Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) worth of projects have already been approved. It will take 3 to 4 years for all of them to come into operation. Till then we will try our best to divert wind power through other lines.

Is it true that you buy power from private power generators at different rates?

Tariffs are fixed by the government, you will have to ask them.

What are the new power projects in the pipeline?

North Chennai 2 - 600 MW, Tuticorin 2- 500 MW, Valluvar 3- 500 MW and Nellore 1-600 MW.

Are you putting up new transmission lines?

Yes! Every project will have its own transmission lines, new power stations, sub-stations and transformers will also come up.

Is the trifurcation of the board complete?

The process is on.

Will the trifurcation improve matters?

It will improve efficiency. For the first time there will be accountability. We will know exactly where the losses are.

Are you a profitable company?

No , we are not.

Your vision statement says, "Providing quality and reliable power at competitive rates". How far have you achieved this?

We are doing our best and improving every day.

A Ganesh Nadar