With India going into a complete lockdown, power generators (gencos), suppliers, and grid operators are entering the contingency mode to ensure seamless supply with minimum manpower. While the country’s largest power generator, NTPC, initiated an emergency plan a week ago, Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) has shifted complete to remote operations.
The most important part of the power supply chain — power grid operator POSOCO and its five load dispatch centres (LDCs) — are acting on a detailed contingency plan. The LDCs —located in five regions — monitor, schedule, and forecast the supply of power in their respective regions.
The contingency plan prepared and circulated on Monday enlisted a 15-point agenda for “ensuring supply and grid security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak”. This included having reserve manpower for operating in case of any emergency and establishing temporary control rooms at every LDC.
“Adequate reserve generation may be kept on bar to take care of any contingency in respective systems. However, during low-demand period, sufficient backing down/reserve shutdown may be restored to,” said the advisory.
To ensure steady availability of power in case of sudden ramping up or down, hydro and gas run power stations have been asked to be on standby. Unlike coal, solar, and wind stations, hydro and gas can be switched off and on instantly.
“Hydro stations are advised to execute orders of LDCs swiftly so that ramp requirements during exigencies may be fulfilled. These stations are advised to maintain healthy operations,” said the advisory. All transmission line licences — including Power Grid and private players like Sterlite Grid, Adani Transmission, etc — have been advised to avoid planned shutdowns and execute any instruction from the LDC promptly. The system is also gearing up for an impending fall in demand. With industrial and commercial centres closed, electricity demand may slump.
On Sunday, during the janata curfew, demand fell 16.41 per cent over the previous day. Sunday was also not a working day for most manufacturing units. On Monday, the first working day of country-wide lockdown, demand rose by close to 1,000 Mw but was lower by 10 per cent over Saturday.
Adani Electricity Mumbai (AEML) said power consumption marginally reduced by 1 million units a day, during last week. It also said peak demand reduced to 1,437 Mw on March 20, as against an average peak demand of 1,500 Mw. Mumbai started moving towards a lockdown in a phased manner, starting last week.
In the national capital, power demand on Monday was less by around 32 per cent over the previous Monday. Delhi’s power demand stood at 2,294 Mw on Sunday, and 2,471 Mw on Monday.
Despite the demand slump, senior NTPC executives said all generation units will function normally with less staff.
The firm said it was following all necessary precautions put in place by the department of health, and head of all units would identify staff needed for essential operations.
Private power plants continue with normal operations, coupled with thermal screening of staff, awareness programmes, and restricted entry for outsiders.
PowerGrid, which owns 95 per cent of India’s transmission network, has shifted to remote monitoring. The company’s National Transmission Asset Management Centre (NTAMC) in Manesar is monitoring transmission network remotely, and will detect any disruption in real-time.
Company executives said a couple of executives would be stationed at regional units of NTAMC to take care of technical issues. “The Manesar facility is well equipped and executives stationed there residing at the unit,” said a senior executive.