Northern Grid Failure

Power Grid Corp India Ltd sources said that the Tuesday's collapse is the most severe ever in the country. "Grid incident occured at 1300hrs effecting the Northern, Eastern & North Eastern Grid. System under restoration," Eastern Regional Load despatch Centres said. Central Electricity Authority officials have said that the collapse of three grids is unprecedented. "May take over a day to recover. Three grids - Northern, North eastern, and eastern - have collapsed together. The grids will be restored seperately," officials said. According to the officials, hydro power plants will be started first. Thermal plants may take the longest to come back on stream.

"The entire drill may take a complete day. Situation may be normal by Wednesday," they added. All power generating stations connected to North, East and North East have been shut down. Kolkata, however, was partly insulated from the outage as the city is supplied by CESC Ltd, which has its own sources also. A top CESC executive told ET that that the city has a shortfall of 400-500 mw. Monday's collapse of the northern grid, the worst in a decade, was triggered by violation of discipline by states, which drew excessive power, which some officials said was due to political pressures.

Hundreds of millions without power in India. The country's power minister has blamed the crisis on states drawing too much power from the national grid. In a statement on national TV on Tuesday evening, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said he had appealed to states to stop trying to take more than their quota of power. "I have also instructed my officials to penalise the states which overdraw from the grid," he said. Media reports in India have suggested that Uttar Pradesh is among the states that government officials have been blaming for the grid collapse. But officials in the state denied this, saying there was "no reason to believe that any power operations in Uttar Pradesh triggered it".

Anil K Gupta, the chairman of the state's power company, called for "further investigation to ascertain the real cause". Also on Tuesday it was announced that Mr Shinde had been promoted to the post of home minister, in a widely anticipated cabinet reshuffle. This is also the season of no rain when humidity is high, the heat is sweltering and people get taken ill” After Monday's cut, engineers managed to restore electricity to the northern grid by the evening, but at 13:05 (07:35 GMT) on Tuesday, it collapsed again.

The eastern grid failed around the same time, officials said, followed by the north-eastern grid. Areas affected include Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan in the north, and West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand in the east. Across West Bengal, power went at 13:00 and all suburban railway trains on the eastern railways ground to a halt from Howrah and Seladah stations, the BBC's Rahul Tandon reports from Calcutta.

However, the city is not badly affected as it is served by a private electricity board, our correspondent adds. But the collapse of an entire grid is rare - the last time the northern grid failed was in 2001. India's demand for electricity has soared in recent years as its economy has grown but its power infrastructure has been unable to meet the growing needs. Correspondents say unless there is a huge investment in the power sector, the country will see many more power failures. North India grid failure: India's worst power crisis in a decade

Apart from Delhi, power crisis hit Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, HP, UP and J-K. Latest reports state that the electricity has been restored in Jaipur, Rohtak and Chandigarh.

Addressing a press meet, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, "A three-member panel will look into the failure of the Northern Grid, which led to power outages throughout the region today, and submit its report in 15 days.

Central Electricity Authority Chairperson A S Bakshi, Power Grid Corporation Chairman and Managing Director A M Nayak and Power System Operation Corporation Chief Executive Officer S K Soonee will make up the panel.

On the possible reasons for the collapse, the Minister said they would be known once the panel submits the report.

Responding to a query on whether over-drawal by states led to the grid's failure, Shinde said, "It cannot be said whether over drawing by states is one of the reasons or there is any other reason. The panel will find out.

The Northern Grid, which caters to about 28 per cent of the country's population, covers nine regions -- Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Chandigarh.

The normal frequency at which electricity is transmitted through the Northern Grid ranges from 48.5 to 50.2 Hz. At the time of the collapse around 2.35 AM, the grid frequency was 50.46 Hz, a few notches above normal. This could have tripped the supply, Shinde said.

The main casualty of the power failure was the water distribution system as well as Metro services but operations at the airport remained largely unaffected as diesel generating back-up system was put to use.

Delhi government officials said Power Minister Harun Yusuf is constantly monitoring the situation and officials are in touch with the Union Power Ministry and Power Grid Corporation, which maintains the Northern Grid.

Operations at the Delhi airport largely remained unaffected even as power supply to six states was hit early this morning due to the failure of Northern Grid.

"As soon as there was a disruption in power supply, all our essential services like flight arrival and departure, check-in, baggage handling, aerobridge services were shifted to our back-up system. So all these operations remained normal", an airport spokesperson said.

"We have one of the best DG (Diesel Generating) back-up system of the world. However, there might be some disruption in our non-essential services", he added.

"The power supply, which was severely affected since 2.30 am due to failure of Northern grid has been restored in 50 per cent areas of the state", MD, Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL), Avnish Awasthi said..

"Rajasthan is among the northern states where power supply from northern grid has been stopped for the last few hours due to a fault which occurred because of overdraw. Efforts are being made to restore power supply at least in divisional headquarters," he said.

The official said that due to rainfall last night, demand for power has decreased and supply from units in the state may improve by the evening.

On Tuesday, India suffered the largest electrical blackout in history, affecting an area encompassing about 670 million people, or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population. Three of the country’s interconnected northern power grids collapsed for several hours, as blackouts extended almost 2,000 miles, from India’s eastern border with Myanmar to its western border with Pakistan.

For a country considered a rising economic power, Blackout Tuesday — which came only a day after another major power failure — was an embarrassing reminder of the intractable problems still plaguing India: inadequate infrastructure, a crippling power shortage and, many critics say, a yawning absence of governmental action and leadership. India’s coalition government, battered for its stewardship of a wobbling economy, again found itself on the defensive, as top ministers could not definitively explain what had caused the grid failure or why it had happened on consecutive days.

Theories for the extraordinarily extensive blackout across much of northern India included excessive demands placed on the grid from certain regions, due in part to low monsoon rains that forced farmers to pump more water to their fields, and the less plausible possibility that large solar flares had set off a failure.

By Tuesday evening, power had been restored in most regions, and many people in major cities barely noticed the disruption because localized blackouts are so common that many businesses, hospitals, offices and middle-class homes have backup diesel fuel generators. But that did not prevent people from being furious, especially after the government chose Tuesday to announce a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle — in which the power minister was promoted to take over the Home Affairs Ministry, one of the country’s most important positions.

“This is a huge failure,” said Prakash Javadekar, a spokesman for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. “It is a management failure as well as a failure of policy. It is policy paralysis in the power sector.” For millions of ordinary people, Tuesday brought frustration and anger; for some, there was fear. As nighttime arrived, Kirti Shrivastava, 49, a housewife in the eastern city of Patna, said power had not been restored in her neighborhood.

“There is no water, no idea when electricity will return,” she said. “We are really tense. Even the shops have now closed. Now we hope it is not an invitation to the criminals!” Tuesday also brought havoc to India’s railroad network, one of the busiest in the world. Across the country, hundreds of trains were stalled for hours before service resumed. At the bustling New Delhi Railway Station, Jaswant Kaur, 62, found herself stranded after a miserable day. Her initial train was stopped by the power failure. By the time she reached New Delhi, her connecting train was already gone. “Now my pocket is empty,” she said. “I am hungry. I am tired.

The government is responsible.” ushil Kumar Shinde, the power minister, who spoke to reporters in the afternoon, did not specify what had caused the grid breakdown but blamed several northern states for consuming too much power from the national system. “I have asked my officers to penalize those states which are drawing more power than their quota,” said Mr. Shinde, whose promotion was announced a few hours later.

Surendra Rao, formerly India’s top electricity regulator, said the national grid had a sophisticated system of circuit breakers that should have prevented such a blackout. But he attributed this week’s problems to the bureaucrats who control the system, saying that civil servants are beholden to elected state leaders who demand that more power be diverted to their regions — even if doing so threatens the stability of the national grid.

“The dispatchers at both the state and the regional level should have cut off the customers who were overdrawing, and they didn’t,” Mr. Rao said. “That has to be investigated.” India’s power sector has long been considered a potentially crippling hindrance to the country’s economic prospects. Part of the problem is access; more than 300 million people in India still have no electricity. But India’s power generation capacity also has not kept pace with growth. Demand outpaced supply by 10.2 percent in March, government statistics show. In recent years, India’s government has set ambitious goals for expanding power generation capacity, and while new plants have come online, many more have faced delays, whether because of bureaucratic entanglements, environmental concerns or other problems. India depends on coal for more than half of its power generation, but production has barely increased, with some power plants idled for lack of coal. Many analysts have long predicted that India’s populist politics were creating an untenable situation in the power sector because the government is selling electricity at prices lower than the cost of generating it. India’s public distribution utilities are now in deep debt, which makes it harder to encourage investment in the power sector.

Tuesday’s blackout struck some analysts as evidence of a system in distress. “It’s like a day of reckoning coming nearer,” said Rajiv Kumar, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. India’s major business centers of Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad were not affected by the blackout, since they are in the southern and central parts of the country that proved to be immune from the failure. Phillip F. Schewe, a specialist in electricity and author of the book “The Grid:

A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World,” said the demand pressures on India’s system could set off the sort of breakdown that occurred on Tuesday. In cases when demand outstrips the power supply, the system of circuit breakers must be activated, often manually, to reduce some of the load in what are known as rolling blackouts. But if workers cannot trip those breakers fast enough, Mr.

Schewe said, a failure could cascade into a much larger blackout. Some experts attributed excessive demand in part to the lower levels of monsoon rains falling on India this year, which have reduced the capacity of hydroelectric power and forced many farmers to turn to electric pumps to draw water from underground. It was unclear how long it would take to restore power fully in areas still lacking it — or if the problem would recur this week. In Lucknow, capital of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Sachendra Raj said his private hospital was using two large rented generators to power air-conditioners and dialysis machines.