Mumbai Blackout: Panel opines revamp to end 'power struggle'

An eight-member technical committee headed by IIT (Mumbai) Electrical Engineering Department head Prof BG Fernandes has made a slew of recommendations to avoid the repeat of power failure in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). The committee, which has probed the October 12 power outage following the grid failure, on Wednesday made a presentation on its probe to the energy minister Dr Nitin Raut and made a strong case for complete revamp in planning for Mumbai’s power sector considering rising mismatch between demand and supply and also review of the islanding system which has failed on October 12. The committee will submit its report next week to the state cabinet for further action.

The committee has further observed that amid falling embedded generation and rising power demand, the present islanding system launched in 1981 will not work in its present format but it needs a total overhaul. ‘’The islanding system was worked over the years and was helpful in uninterrupted power supply in Mumbai during the collapse of grids in the past. But it will no longer be in a position to do so with the changing nature of generation and supply. Therefore, the committee has strongly recommended up-gradation of the islanding system, increase in generation capacity, strengthening of transmission and distribution to avoid blackouts in future,’’ said the energy department officer who is party to committee’s functioning.

The committee expressed serious displeasure over the serious flaws in planning over the years. ‘’ There are only 100kV and 200kV substations in the whole of Mumbai but not a single 400kV substation. Even though it was planned at Vikhroli way back in 2009 it could not be completed by Tata Power. Last year, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission scrapped the work assigned to Tata Power and asked the State Load Dispatch Centre to invite fresh bids. The Adani Transmission has bagged the contract and it is expected to complete the erection of a proposed 400kV substation before 2023 which will help bring additional 1,000 mw power in Mumbai. The need of the hour is commissioning of high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines on the lines Chandrapur Padgha to evacuate more power from outside,’’ the officer said.

He further said the committee also stressed the need for implementation of another HVDC transmission line between Kudus in Palghar district and Aarey Colony which will add another 1,000 mw. ‘’ In addition, the committee suggested that the term of power purchase agreements signed by Tata Power to procure power from various sources will be over in 2024. Therefore, Tata Power will have to start from now on exploring options for fresh PPAs,’’ he added.

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