Traffic signal stops functioning due to the power grid failure.
Traffic signal stops functioning due to the power grid failure.
BL Soni

Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has set up a three-member committee to find out the root cause of the power grid failure in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), examine the adequacy systems and islanding system and verify the adequacy of responses of all concerned. The committee will be headed by Dr Sudhir Kumar Goel, former state additional chief secretary. Its members include V Ramakrishna, former member (power systems) of Central Electricity Authority, and Dr Faruk AS Kazi, head of electrical engineering of VJTI.

MERC, which had held a suo moto hearing on October 21 on the power outage, today issued an order and notification on the establishment of the committee. This is the third committee that will probe the October 12 power grid collapse and outage. CEA has already set up a committee that has begun its inquiry. Yesterday, the state government formed an eight-member technical panel to probe the matter.

The MERC-appointed three-member panel will review the grid or affected areas, analyse existing practice and issues related to Outage Management and verify its compliance. The committee will review the adequacy of co-ordinated protection systems and settings thereof at all interconnected points between the two transmission licensees and transmission–distribution interconnection boundary points.

MERC, in its order, observed that delayed restoration of power supply in Mumbai caused immense hardship to BrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) consumers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “The prolonged power failure could have been avoided had the Mumbai system survived from outside the grid disturbance after the operationalisation of the Mumbai Islanding scheme and if TPC was able to bring its hydro/ thermal generation into service without delay. Hence, further review of the Mumbai Islanding scheme, considering load/generation balance, is necessary,” the regulator said.

According to MERC, Mumbai Generating Companies, Transmission Licensees and Maharashtra State Load Dispatch Centre were aware of the critical situations arising due to the failure of the 400 kV lines in the early hours of October 21, 2020. Accordingly, a contingency plan should have been initiated to avoid any further grid disturbance. “Strengthening of Mumbai Transmission is essential to remove the congestion in the Mumbai Transmission System. Also, timely execution of the transmission scheme is necessary,” said MERC.

Further, MERC said transmission constraints in Mumbai tie-lines compel Mumbai Distribution Licensees to purchase costly power from embedded generators rather than availing the option of cheaper power sources from outside. Considering the targeted quantum of renewable power obligation (RPO) in the ensuing period, in addition to the conventional contractual power, more renewable energy (RE) power is anticipated to flow from outside. It is, therefore, necessary to expeditiously strengthen the MMR Transmission System, taking into consideration the short/long term perspective to avoid the recurrence of such grid failure and to ensure free flow of power in the network.

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