New Delhi: The government is working on a plan to mitigate the impact of a deficient monsoon on electricity supply, particularly in states such as Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The government believes that while western, eastern, northeastern and southern regions will be able to manage the supply position during the monsoon months, the northern region, comprising states such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh, is likely to be affected by any rainfall deficit.

As part of the exercise, the planned shutdown of thermal power units has been postponed and the government has decided to optimally utilize gas and liquid-fuelled projects, divert gas from the western region to the northern region and expedite revival of the projects currently under reserve shutdown.

Even state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd’s (ONGC’s) planned shutdown of its Mumbai offshore gas platform during July, which may impact three power projects totalling 1,912 megawatts (MW), is being explored to be rescheduled. “The government is seized of the situation and with the rainfall improving, there shouldn’t be any problem," said a senior government official, requesting anonymity.

In its second-stage monsoon forecast in June, the India Meteorological Department predicted that the monthly rainfall over the country as a whole is likely to be 92% of its average during July and 90% of its average during August, both with a model error of ±9%. This amount of rainfall will qualify as below-normal.

But better-than-expected rainfall in June led to an improvement in reservoir water levels.

Of India’s installed power generation capacity of 272,503MW, hydropower projects account for 41,632.43MW. The northern states, with a power generation capacity of 71,383.40MW, had a peak electricity shortage of 4.5% in May.

Queries emailed to spokespersons in the ministries of power and petroleum and ONGC remained unanswered, till the time of going to print.

In the northern region, five thermal projects with a combined 1,555MW capacity have deferred maintenance activity. Also, if required, another 530MW can be shifted to the post-monsoon period. In addition, the power flow from the western region to the northern region through a 765 kV D/C Gwalior-Agra line has been approved—resulting in an additional supply of 300MW from the current levels of 1,250MW.

Mint reported on 11 August 2014 that around 30,000MW of capacity was lying idle because of breakdowns and maintenance work on power plants.

“The financial position of distribution utilities in many states continues to remain weak, with large subsidy dependence, and limited progress in loss reduction against the regulatory targets," rating agency Icra Ltd wrote in a 7 July report.

“Moreover, the build-up of regulatory assets continues to be significant (estimated at 84,000 crore) for discoms in three states—Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh—due to lack of tariff revision for a prolonged period...," the report said.