Karnataka’s Electricity Woes

It is the election season. We are talking about Bangalore in the year 2018. Yet, the city is facing scheduled and unscheduled power cuts up to 4-6 hours per day. It is simply unacceptable by any standards. If the government cannot ensure uninterrupted power supply in peak election season in the most important city in the state, I shudder to think of the situation in rural areas.

BESCOM, the power distribution company in Bangalore, supposedly received 6552 complaints on just one day (April 24th) regarding power disruption. For the month of April, the number of complaints touched nearly 40,000.

The two normal reasons given for power cuts are: increased demand and disruption due to technical reasons following rains. These are not tenable excuses. BESCOM seems to be surprised every year that people use more electricity during summers. There are no steps taken in advance to manage the higher demand.

This is the statement given by N Jayanthi, the General Manager of customer relations of BESCOM:

Transformers get overloaded, flashovers occur and there are other technical problems. Sometimes, trees bring down feeders with them, and as a precaution, we have to cut off the power, so that no one gets electrocuted.

Is our critical infrastructure setup so fragile that a bit of rain and wind can leave an entire city dark? Surely, there are solutions to prevent such damage to the power lines due to wind and rain.

Ultimately, to solve the problem, the government would need to increase the price paid by the consumer for electricity, which would allow the ESCOMs (Electricity Supply Companies) to buy power and invest in better technology. BESCOM can introduce also special seasonal tariffs for summer or prepare for a weak monsoon by making arrangements to buy power in advance. Privatisation will also go a long way in ensuring uninterrupted power supply. Cities in India, such as Mumbai and Gudgaon, which have privatised has witnessed good power supply.

Finally, ESCOMs in India should operate the way a private firm does: project production quantities, projecting demand, possibilities for production disruption, alternatives for mitigating the disruptions, etc.