Bengaluru: Karnataka finds itself in a critical situation characterized by an acute drought, rapidly declining reservoir levels, and a surge in electricity demand. The state’s power generation has declined substantially, leading to a notable rise in monthly electricity procurements from ESCOM’s, the state’s electricity distribution companies.
Karnataka is presently contending with a severe drought that has impacted about 195 taluks throughout the state. Despite an extended monsoon season, major reservoirs have not received adequate replenishment, causing them to reach critically low levels. As a result, hydroelectric power production capacity has sharply declined, greatly heightening the risk of electricity shortages.
Simultaneously, the state has experienced an unparalleled increase in electricity consumption, with peak power demand reaching around 14,624 MW as of September 22. By the same date, Karnataka had utilized 265 million units (MU) of electricity, in contrast to 200 million MU consumed during the equivalent period in the previous year. Within the state’s thermal power facilities, only five out of eight units at the Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) are currently in operation.
Energy department officials attribute the decline in power generation to a combination of factors, including a significant reduction in hydroelectricity production and challenges faced by thermal power plants, largely stemming from coal shortages and technical issues. To mitigate the coal shortage, the government has taken measures to import 15 lakh tonnes of coal. Presently, Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) has issued invitations for tenders for the import and supply of 2.50 lakh tonnes of coal to Thermal Power Station (YTPS) for a six-month period. These actions are aimed at addressing the mounting electricity demand in the state.
The state’s electricity regulatory commissions have sanctioned significant budgets for procuring electricity across different power supply companies. However, the energy department is apprehensive that the actual procurement costs could surpass these projections because of the severe power generation shortage. To counter the power crisis, ESCOMs have been procuring substantial quantities of electricity, witnessing a significant increase in their monthly average consumption, rising from 250 million units last year to approximately 800-900 million units this year. As the decline in electricity production caused by the drought persists, the state remains committed to vigilantly managing this critical situation.