Bibek Subedi, The kathmandu Post, 10 May 2018
The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has set out to conquer new horizons after eliminating load-shedding for residential customers that ended decades of suffering for the Nepali people.
The state-owned power utility now plans to remove power cuts in the industrial sector. Rolling blackouts lasting 3-4 hours are currently in force for factories. This is expected to end by mid-May. The industrial corridors in Birgunj and Biratnagar are already getting uninterrupted power supply on a trial basis.
Although the NEA had planned to eliminate power cuts in the industrial corridors by May-end, the programme was moved forward at Energy and Irrigation Minister Barsha Man Pun’s orders. The NEA will continue the trial supply to the industrial corridors for a few more days; and if there are no technical glitches, load-shedding will be ended permanently, said a senior NEA official.
The NEA has been supplying uninterrupted energy to residential customers for more than a year now at the expense of factories where there is load-shedding lasting 3-4 hours during peak times. The power utility has been under constant pressure to remove power cuts in the industrial sector. Industrialists have been demanding uninterrupted power so that they can operate their factories at full capacity.
The NEA would have been in a comfortable position to end power cuts in the industrial sector after a month as electricity generation from domestic hydropower projects will swell as water levels rise in the rivers. However, the minister’s decision has put the authority in a difficult position.
“It will be very difficult to supply regular power to factories, but we will try our best to manage it,” said a senior NEA official. Currently, the total electricity supply amounts to 1,000 MW while demand
during peak hours is 1,300 MW. The 300 MW deficit is equivalent to the requirement of industry.
“Therefore, it will be a challenging task to remove power cuts in the industrial sector. We have been holding a series of meetings with officials of the NEA’s Load Dispatch Centre to resolve the crisis,” said the source. “The centre has informed us that it will be relatively easy to keep the industrial corridor in Birgunj load-shedding free as opposed to other areas.”
The NEA has been supplying electricity imported over the Raxaul-Parwanipur cross-border power line to the industrial corridor in Birgunj. “We have increased energy imports over the cross-border power line by around 40 MW,” said the source.
The power utility said that the hard times would not last long as domestic generation, which currently stands at 500 MW, was expected to rise in the near future.
With a rise in temperature, the water level in the snow-fed rivers will go up allowing hydropower projects to generate more power.
Although the total installed capacity of the hydropower plants in the country stands at around 1,000 MW, production goes down by more than 50 percent when water levels in the rivers fall during the dry season.