What is the problem, what could be the solution?
After a long debate and discussion with people from power sector in Nagaland and beyond to try and understand the issue, I collected the technical points to simplify and summarise it into an article which common public can understand. So I took out my laptop to write this article but laptop battery is dead and no electricity since morning to charge my laptop so here I am typing it using my phone at 40% battery.
1. HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY NAGALAND REQUIRES?
Ans: 400+ MW (MegaWatts)
2. HOW MANY POWER PLANTS DOES NAGALAND HAVE?
Ans: 2 (24 MW + 75 MW = 99 MW capacity)
a. Likimro Hydro power plant which has capacity to generate 24MW. (This is the only state owned hydro power plant but this plant is currently not generating any electricity due to dry season)
b. Doyang Hydro power plant which has capacity of 75MW. But this plant was built by NEEPCO so as per agreement between NEEPCO & Nagaland Government, Nagaland gets only 12% i.e. 9MW. But this also becomes 0 during dry season)
HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY NAGALAND GENERATES?
Ans: 0 (During this season)
In simple words, we require 400 MW of electricity and we are generating 0 MW during dry season.
SO WHERE DO WE GET OUR ELECTRICITY FROM?
We have to buy from the open market by tapping from the NorthEast or National Grid.
(During dry season, cost of electricity goes up since major energy/electricity is produced mostly from Thermal/Gas/Coal since hydro electricity generators run dry.)
Now the Government (Cabinet/Ministers) have to sanction fund to Power department inorder for Nagaland to buy electricity from other states through the power grid.
Consider a simple example where Naga public are facing water shortage so Nagaland Government decides to purchase 1 Crore litres of water from Assam at the rate of Rs 20 per litre. Nagaland Government pays Rs 20 Crore (Rs 1 Crore litre x Rs 20 = Rs 20 Crore) to Assam.
Now if Government sells this water to households, our Government should at least be able to get back Rs 20 Crore from the public consumers. But the billing system and management is so inefficient and outdated that Government is able to recover only Rs 5 Crore instead of Rs 20 Crore.
1. Nagaland buys electricity worth around `400 Crore which the power department sells to public but at the end they are able to recover only Rs 162 Crore (As per 2019-2020). Over the past 5 years, Nagaland has lost around Rs 1000 Crore due to inability to effectively recover electricity bills.
2. Nagaland cannot generate our own electricity requirements and we are left at the mercy of those who generate electricity and sell to us at exorbitant rates!
Even the upcoming hydro electric generation project of 200MW at Tizu is unable to start due to land owner issues.
3. This dry season, even the thermal power plant in Tripura is shut down due to technical issues, Likimro is not generating any electricity, and the Doyang hydro quota is not contributing anything to us.
4. The existing electricity supply & distribution infrastructure are operating beyond their capacities especially in Dimapur which results in transformers blowing up in flames.
5. Despite having a SAP based billing system Power department still require major eGovernance reforms by use of modern online IT systems/computers to eliminate inefficiency within the system.
1. Need few big hydro projects in the state:
But land ownership issue is the major hurdle which should be resolved by keeping in mind that ELECTRICITY has today become one of the most important human need and thus we must utilize our God blessed resources to at least become self reliant & self sufficient in electricity!
Land issues are also followed by environmental concerns which need to be addressed by ensuring proper rehabilitation programs & benefits to those who are sacrificing their lands to GIVE ELECTRICITY TO THE ENTIRE POPULATION!
We should also develop big solar project (At least few MW) around Dimapur area which has good sunshine. However, solar is still not as effective and commercially viable compared to other sources. It is five to eleven times more expensive to produce electricity from the sun than it is from coal, hydro or nuclear sources. Solar panels use expensive semiconductor material to generate electricity directly from sunlight.
Hence, if electricity generated from hydro is Rs 2 per unit then the electricity from solar will be around Rs 10 per unit. So if all households are sold only solar electricity then the electricity bill from mostly hydro based which is around Rs 400 per household presently will go upto Rs 4000 per household per month. In energy/electricity generation & distribution, the economics is extremely critical. However there is hope that in the near future, the cost of generating solar energy will go down.
Tapping Wind Energy could also be an alternative. However, many years back when I did a thorough research on wind energy by assessing CWET (Centre for Wind Energy Technology) data and also visited wind turbine manufacturing factory of Luminous energy in Mumbai, the data gathered from wind masts installed in few places & insights gathered didn’t provide the viability for wind energy projects during that time. But interested geeks can try checking viability for Wind energy again, maybe new wind masts could be installed in new places.
2. Smart meters and prepaid meters at consumer level to improve billing efficiency and revenue collections thereby minimising the losses!
3. Upgrading the supply & distribution power infrastructure to ensure transformers do not blow up operating beyond their load capacity!
4. Corporatisation/privatisation of the power department electricity distribution & billing division need to be explored by ensuring use of modern technology - software, SCADA, GIS, GSM etc to have a highly efficient & transparent management system!
5. While other States allocate huge funds to power sector. Nagaland Government doesn’t allocate sufficient funds to power dept, which means that without Central Government schemes our State will plunge into complete darkness. Our public leaders & Government need to pay more attention and invest more on PRIORITY SECTORS - ROADS, ELECTRICITY, EDUCATION, TELECOM/INTERNET!
It is not an easy task but with public pressure & political will power, nothing is impossible!
We shall one day emerge from darkness into light and become a self-reliant Nagaland and even sell surplus electricity to give light to other neighbouring states in the future!