In a first of its kind deal in the Indian power sector, PJM Interconnection, a regional power transmission organization in the US, and Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd, India’s largest power transmission firm, have agreed to exchange employees to plug a shortage of specialist engineers on both sides.
“While they want system engineers from us, we need engineers for grid operations,” said R.P. Singh, chairman and managing director of PowerGrid. Grid engineers are needed to manage the grid, whereas system engineers deal with the operation of transmission lines.
For a start, the Pennsylvania-based company will “lease” 20 engineers from the Indian transmission major for which the corporation will be paid. PowerGrid did not disclose the commercial terms of this arrangement.
PJM manages electricity transmission networks in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
This service area has a population of about 51 million and a peak demand of 144,644MW.
The company failed to respond to questions from Mint.
PowerGrid currently owns and operates 61,875km of transmission lines and transmits around 45% of the power generated in the country.
“India has a lot to offer in grid-planning and operations to the world...,” according to K. Ramanathan, distinguished fellow at The Energy Research Institute.
India, which faces an acute shortage of power, is also one of the few countries where engineers are trained to manage operations with an eye on thrift.
India’s total transmission capacity of 16,500MW is not sufficient to handle the 78,570MW of additional generation capacity that the government aims to create over the next five years. As a result, the transmission sector has been a key focus for the government and it has already proposed an outlay of Rs14 trillion to build a national power transmission grid that will more than double the transmission capacity in the country to 37,150MW by 2012.
Given this, PowerGrid needs more grid operations engineers than can be found here. Currently, there are five regional grids in India—northern, southern, eastern, northeastern and western—and all of them, except the southern one, are interconnected.
Once the national grid is in place, transmission of power across the entire country will be synchronized, enabling transfer of power from one region to another. This will also require trained manpower for which the company wants to leverage its arrangement with PJM.