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Fault at Tata Power plant led to outage: Probe panel

The massive power failure in Mumbai on September 2 was due to technical snags at Tata Power’s 500-Mw Trombay plant, a probe by a committee headed by Maharashtra energy secretary Ajoy Mehta has found.

However, the committee, which will submit its report to the state government by Monday, has noted that had the power utilities completed the transmission network upgrade in Greater Mumbai in a time-bound manner, it would have helped power evacuation from other parts of the state and country.

Further, the committee, which has sourced the necessary backup data from the State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC), has made a strong case for power generation capacity addition to meet the increasing demand in the city and also exploring options such as roof top solar projects and power generation based on solid waste management.

Sources told Business Standard: “Based on the SLDC data, the committee has noted that the technical fault led to tripping of Tata Power’s unit five at the Trombay plant. However, transmission constraints impacted evacuation of power from the grid, which would have provided relief to the consumers. There will not be witch-hunting but it is committee’s attempt to see that Mumbai’s preeminence as the commercial and financial capital is maintained with an uninterrupted and reliable power supply.”

Concerned over the outage, the state government had asked the committee to look into the causes and recommend short and long-term measures to prevent recurrence. Mumbai’s peak load has already moved to 3,350 Mw against the connected generation of 2,500 Mw. Tata Power, Reliance Infrastructure, BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) and state-run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MahaVitaran) supply power to the city.

Moreover, the committee has suggested distribution companies can reach an agreement with MahaVitaran for power supply from the state grid. “However, for that to happen, upgradation and strengthening of transmission network is key,” the sources said.

Ashok Pendse, consumer representative at the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, shared the committee’s observations. “At present, 1,000 -1,200 Mw is the power deficit in Mumbai. Even if Tata Power’s Unit-6 is converted into coal-fed plant, its capacity will be only 250 Mw,” Pendse added.

He however, suggested that the government will have to expeditiously address the issues relating to right of the way and various clearance which will have way for the utilities to strengthen transmission network.

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