Power tariff to swing with demand

Times of India, August 30, 2015

KOLKATA: West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission, utilities and state power department are chalking out a plan to balance the swing in the demand of power. Power demand is typically low at night. But, it picks up in the morning and reaches a high in the afternoon. The power demand dips a bit again around late afternoon before rising sharply in the evening. Speaking to TOI on the sidelines of a seminar on green growth and energy security organized by CUTS International, WBERC chairman Rabindranath Sen said that time of day (TOD) tariff and solar power would be used to stabilize electricity demand at 6,000MW instead of a fluctuating demand that ranges between 5,400MW and 7,600MW(in March). “Balancing the load is important to increase the efficiency of thermal power plants which will use less fossil fuel to generate a kilowatt of electricity.

It also makes commercial sense to do so,” he added. Sen planned to use the TOD tariff mechanism that disincentivizes electricity consumption during peak hours through high tariff while encouraging its use during off-peak hours by offering low tariff. He believed this plan would also encourage agricultural and industrial sectors to consume more power at night. “Use of water lifting pumps for irrigation and running of furnaces will have to shift to night, when the electricity load is otherwise low. This will lower the demand in the evening and push it up at night, bringing the power loads closer to a mean level of 6,000MW that we plan to achieve,” he said. Simultaneously, the solar pump storage plant in Purulia will use thermal electricity produced during off-peak period to pump water up and then release it during peak period to churn the turbines and generate electricity.

While a 900MW pump storage plant is already in operation in Purulia, the government is also designing a 1,000MW plant at Turga, also in Purulia, to balance the growth of power demand in the days to come. The cost of the five-year project has been estimated at Rs 3,500 crore. Unlike the current plant, which uses thermal power to pump water, West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) is planning to build a 1,200MW solar power plant. The plant will be set up in four phases, while 1,000 acres have already been identified in East Midnapore for installation of 300MW solar panels in the first phase of the project.

“The land is with the land revenue department. Once it is transferred to us, WBSEDCL will start developing it,” said joint secretary-power Anindya Narayan Biswas. Also on the cards is a 10MW solar panel project along the 80-km banks of Teesta canal. The Rs 68-crore project will be implemented by WBSEDCL and will be partially funded by Union new & renewable energy ministry. WBERC has also proposed rooftop solar grids to lower the electricity consumption load during 2.30pm-3pm. While the state had earlier targeted to generate 18MW through rooftop solar grids by 2019, now it is revising the target upward to 30MW-35MW. Government buildings, schools and large private projects will be asked to set up rooftop solar power grids .

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