The exact cause of Tuesday’s more serious grid collapse—this time around, even the eastern and north-eastern grid failed, hitting power supplies to 620 million persons in 20 states—has yet to be ascertained since it is not clear the amount of overdrawals by states like Haryana, UP and Rajasthan was enough to cause the grid to fail. The extra overdrawal was not too much at 1400 MW on Tuesday, and as we have pointed out earlier (http://goo.gl/akxOt), the overdrawal on Monday was much less than it has been in the past. Of course, what matters is the frequency of the grid at the time this overdrawal was taking place, and there is some lack of clarity on this. But what is true is that, many times in the past, states have overdrawn power when the grid frequency was way below the safe limit. Indeed, the best example of just how bad things are is the fact that, even last year, the northern regional load despatch centre (NRLDC) had petitioned the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) asking states to heed its warnings.
With the states not paying attention to CERC either, there’s no mechanism to deal with the grid indiscipline. States habitually remove circuit filters designed to stop such overdrawing; CERC has very steep charges, going up to R9 per unit of power for states overdrawing when the frequency is very low, but this hasn’t helped either—UP had dues of R974 crore last year and R722 crore till July 3 in FY13, but it has paid only R47 crore! The only solution then is to completely cut off power to offending states, but that’s not a feasible option. Fortunately for power minister Sushilkumar Shinde, that’s now someone else’s job.