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With an eye on future power usage, minister visits Tata Power plant

With an eye on future power usage, minister visits Tata Power plantTata mulling reviving two shut plants for uninterrupted power supply to city; minister Nitin Raut considering consumption due to power-guzzling Metro and upcoming Navi Mumbai airport, too.

The web of metro lines, new skyscrapers and the upcoming airport in Navi Mumbai will change the face of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) in the coming years. Worried about the rising demand for electricity, which is set to surpass 5,000 Megawatt (Mw) from the current 2,700 Mw in Mumbai, the state’s energy minister Dr Nitin Raut visited Tata Power plants in Trombay on Monday.

Tata Power was recently at the receiving end for not jumpstarting one of their plants when the city faced a major outage recently. The firm is now mulling reviving two of its shut units.

Island city doesn’t need islanding

Mumbai’s power demand during summer season touches 3,400-3,600 Mw and drops to 2,400 Mw during winters. Since 1981, the city has been protected by a system called ‘islanding’ for which citizens pay around Rs 450-500 crore each year through electricity bills. This is to ensure that Mumbai gets constant supply even if there is power outage in the MMR or elsewhere in the state.

While Tata Power generates 1,337 Mw, Adani Electricity generates 500 Mw in Dahanu. Experts said it’s insufficient to meet the demand. One of them said, “If another grid failure occurs, there is no guarantee that the islanding system will work.” For the first time, therefore, the government on Monday discussed discarding this system once and for all. “For this system to work, the power demand and supply should match,” said an official who was present at the meeting.

Power guzzling rail and air

A government official said the state expects the Metro to consume 280 Mw of electricity when it begins full-scale operations. The MMRDA is constructing 12 metro rail lines in Mumbai and the MMR. The only underground Metro-3 is being built by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation. Covering 336 km, these lines will expectedly consume more energy when ready.

Metro’s Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor already consumes around 3.5-4 Mw. The government authorities expect the Navi Mumbai International Airport to consume another 50 Mw. The new skyscrapers and the redevelopment of old ones across MMR could lead to a rise of power consumption by approximately 75 Mw. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail corridor could add another 50 Mw.

More juice to plants

At the meeting, Tata Power mooted the revival of Unit 4 and Unit 6, each of which generates 500 Mw. However, experts claim this could lead to our electricity bills becoming more expensive; it could cost Rs 4.5-5 per unit. At present, Mumbai gets electricity at Rs 2.20-2.80 per unit.

Dr Raut told Mirror he expects Mumbai’s power demand to touch 3,500 Mw, with the MMR touching 5,000 Mw. He said, “Tata Power has the capacity to generate 2,300 Mw for which they can add another 1,000 Mw. There is a need to augment generation capacity.”

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