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BW Businessworld

Escape From Grid

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July 29 saw one of the worst crises in India’s power system when the northern grid collapsed plunging seven states into darkness. The administration was running around trying to get the system running properly when the grid collapsed again two days later, this time taking the eastern grid down with it. And thus, 21 states  and over 600 million people were left powerless.

It took more than two days for the grid to function properly again. A total of 48,000 MW of capacity was affected during the blackout and as per some estimates, power companies lost more than Rs 500 crore during the blackout.

Responding to the crisis, the power ministry held a meeting with the chief ministers and the power ministers of the northern states where it was decided to prepare contingency plans to help the states deali better with a similar situation in future.

In accordance with this, the Union ministry of power and the Delhi government announced an islanding scheme for Delhi on October 17, 2012. The scheme once implemented will prevent the state from going absolutely powerless in case of any future grid disturbances.

“The grid crisis which occurred in July was a wake-up call and this is in response to that,” said the Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit while announcing that the islanding scheme will be ready by January next year, five months before it was scheduled.

The announcement was made in a joint press meet called by the ministry of power and the Delhi Chief Minister.

According to power minister Veerappa Moily, the cost of implementing the islanding scheme will vary from state to state. In Delhi, it is estimated to cost around Rs 25 crore.

While islanding schemes already exist in Mumbai and Kolkata, the power network of Delhi is much more complex and four islands have to be created for Delhi as against two in Kolkata.

Further, the complexity of the Delhi network requires several additional measures like development of an intelligence system for centralised decision making, augmentation of generation within Delhi, maintaining dual source of supply to essential loads, etc.

In case of any future grid disturbance, the islanding scheme will seek to first isolate Delhi from the regional grid and will then strive to meet the electricity requirement of emergency services like railways, hospitals, water treatment, etc.

The essential load requirement of Delhi at present is 930 MW but the system would be able to handle 3,400 MW of load. Delhi currently has a peak requirement of 5,500 MW.

The power minister said that the Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir governments have also approached the ministry for islanding schemes and it would take the ministry two months to finalise the plan for these states.