Tariff draws heat, power dept swears by Tamnar

Margao: The state electricity department came in the line of heavy fire from power consumers and consumer activists at the public hearing held on Tuesday by Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) for granting approval for true-up of its accounts for the FY 2022-23 and tariff proposals for FY 2024-25.

The electricity department was accused of inefficiency — in plugging transmission and distribution losses, in recovering arrears from power-guzzling industries, and in spreading public awareness on switching over to solar energy.

Speaker after speaker opposed the proposed hike in power tariff. They questioned the rationale of the electricity department in further burdening the common person who they said has had to suffer from frequent power outages in a day, unusually long unscheduled blackouts, and an unreliable complaint redressal system.

Responding to public opposition to the tariff hike and criticism of the power supply situation, chief electrical engineer of the state’s electricity department Stephen Fernandes, in his defence, made a strong case for the contentious 400 KV line of the Tamnar-Goa transmission project. He said that half of the power supply problems will be resolved once the Tamnar line is commissioned.

Underscoring the significance of the Tamnar line particularly for South Goa, Fernandes said, “When we are able to complete the Colvale-Dharbandora-Xeldem ring power transmission line, South Goa will have the best power supply.

He attributed most of the power woes in South Goa to the absence of any alternative power transmission line when the main line trips.

Whenever Extra High Voltage (EHV) line trips, the authorities do not allow us to charge the line unless a proper justification is given for the tripping. Therefore it often leads to 2-3 hour-long power outages by the time the line gets charged, since Goa has only one line,” Fernandes said. This he said was quite unlike the situation in North Goa which has four circuits; South Goa has only two circuits on a single pole.

Highlighting the criticality of the Tamnar project, Fernandes said: “Today, the available transmission capability for Goa is only 700MW. Whenever an interstate line fails trips, we are asked to reduce it to 380MW. At such times, we immediately shut off the power supply to industries.” He added, “That’s how we survive. But industries, hotels and domestic consumers, all should co-exist to ensure proper development. So when the line trips, its restoration and maintenance becomes very difficult for us.

The completion of the Colvale-Dharbandora-Xeldem ring power transmission line of the Tamnar project, he said, will eliminate this problem.

Fernandes also said that advanced fault-finding machines will be procured within the next two months thereby helping improve the power situation to some extent.

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