Nagaland Power Dept’s worst fear coming true?

Imkong Walling
Dimapur | August 21  

India is projected to experience energy (electricity) surplus of 1.1 percent and peak (demand) surplus of 2.6 percent for the year 2016-17. The projection, as per the Load Generation Balance Report (LGBR) compiled annually by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), tips the anticipated surplus energy at 13,252 MU (million units) while in terms of supply-demand, supply is tipped to exceed peak demand by 4250 MW.  

This however does not entail all the states and union territories enjoying surplus position as the figure is a cumulative assessment.  

State-wise, the LGBR placed Nagaland in a relatively secure position in terms of demand-supply gap. It tipped the peak availability at 145 MW against a projected peak demand of 140 MW for 2016-17. In comparison, during 2015-16, the state was stated to have fallen short of the peak demand of 140 MW by 2 MW.  

The quantum of energy requirement for 2016-17 is tipped at 849 MU (million units) with the anticipated energy availability projected to fall short by 15 percent or 127 MU of the requirement.  

While the statistics present a rather comfortable position for the state, ground reality on the other hand continues to remain far from comforting. As asserted time and again by Power Department officials, the state’s distribution infrastructure is in no condition to handle the load demand as projected even if a situation of surplus arises.  

“At the current circumstance, we can hardly draw a maximum of 120 MW at any given point of time,” responded a department official when queried on the LGBR projection. Further asked about the state meeting a peak demand of 138 MW during 2015-16, the official said that sustaining such amount of load for a long period of time is practically unfeasible, adding that it could have lasted for seconds or at the most minutes. As per the official, the state’s aging transformers will start conking out if the transmission system is allowed to meet the peak demand.  

In brief, it is either load-shedding or distribution transformers breaking down unforeseen.  

According to department officials, the frequency of transformers breaking down is increasing year after year. Complaints come from all the 12 Electrical and 3 Transmission divisions with the maximum number of cases occurring in Dimapur. Aging and over-loading are stated to be the two main culprits with one official disclosing that the state has in use transformers dating to the late 1960s.  

This month alone, the Power department’s Central Store has received as many as 39 cases of damaged transformers for repair. In July, it received 43 such cases. During the April-June quarter of 2016, as per the record maintained by the Central Store, it received 127 cases as against 98 cases during the same period in 2015. The July-September quarter of 2015 saw 117 such cases.  

Complaints though dwindle during the winter. As per the record, the Central Store handled 67 complaints during October-December, 2015 followed by 77 in the January-March quarter of 2016. In addition, a total of 56 transformers were stated to have been handled in 2015 by a now defunct repair unit in Mokokchung. A total of 336 cases was received in 2014 and in 2013, the figure stood at 365.  

As the number of breakdowns increases, so are the costs and spares hard to come by, ultimately pointing to extended blackouts in areas affected. The cost of repair is stated to range from Rs. 15,000 to as high as Rs. 8 lakhs depending on the load capacity. Repair time ranges from 10-45 days with the bigger transformers of the 5-10MVa range consuming the most number of days.  

Payments to the repairmen is a different story altogether. According to the department officials, repair work has been outsourced to private parties and bills due to the repairmen are mounting and pending for over a year. The outsourcing of work was stated to be more for procedural convenience than a lack of expertise. It was explained that if repairs are handled within the department, work is likely to get delayed as getting even the smallest of parts/spares would require following governmental protocol, which normally implies file-pushing from table to table. Outsourcing makes the work relatively convenient as the officials maintained that the private parties are not bound by protocol to source materials.  

Mkg transformer undergoing heat treatment

A Power department official in Dimapur informed that the repair of the 5 Mva transformer brought from Mokokchung is complete. The official stated that the said transformer is currently undergoing controlled heat treatment process for evaporating or removing moisture trapped in the core’s copper windings. Stating that the transformer was placed in the heat chamber about two weeks back, the official added that it is a time-consuming procedure without any definite timeframe. During repair moisture gets trapped in the windings, which must be thoroughly removed before it is commissioned to service. It was added that the outer core is responding well with the inner core requiring more time.