April 5 lights-off event will not harm grid, says Power Ministry

Ghughuti Bulletin

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-assures-protocols-in-place-to-handle-fluctuation-in-load-from-switching-off-of-lights/article31258383.ece

No harm is likely to India’s power grid on account of the mass-switching off of electric lights on Sunday, the Power Ministry has said in a statement.

Explained | Here’s how our power system will be managed during lights-out

“Some apprehensions have been expressed that this may cause instability in the grid and fluctuation in voltage which may harm the electrical appliances… they are misplaced,” said a press statement by the Ministry. It said the electricity grid is “robust and stable” and adequate arrangements and protocols were in place to handle the variation in demand.

It said the call isn’t to switch off street lights or computers, televisions, fans, refrigerators and air conditioners. Only lights should be switched off but not in hospitals and all other essential services like public utilities, municipal services, offices, police stations, manufacturing facilities.

To dispel the “deep darkness” that the pandemic had wrought, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday exhorted Indians to switch off their residential lights for nine minutes at 9 p.m. on Sunday and light candles or flash their phone-lights in that period.

Also read | After PM’s call to switch off lights on April 5, energy authorities make plans

Power companies say a sudden dip and then a spike in supply could threaten the stability of the grid and may cause some of them to trip.

The Power System Operation Corporation (Posoco) Ltd, a public sector company in charge of managing the grid load, said it expects a 12-13 GW (1 GW is 1000 Megawatt) dip and subsequent surge in 17 minutes. (A four-minute window either side of the nine minutes when consumers would begin switching off and then relight). With the lockdown in force, power suppliers across India are already grappling with a 20% dip in demand. An instability in the grid would wobble the frequency range at which electricity flows and threaten outages.

Also read | Staggered load shedding in U.P. on April 5

In an advisory, the Posoco described the anticipated fluctuation in demand as ‘unprecedented’ and would need hydro and gas resources to help the grid retain its stability.

The method of management would be a phased reduction in gas- and hydro generation from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at inter-State generating stations and then a ramping up from 9:10 onwards, according to the note.

PTI adds:

Union Power Secretary Sanjiv Nandan Sahai also wrote to heads of State power departments, saying “the National Load Despatch Centre has worked out the procedures for grid balancing during the period which they will be communicating to the regional and state load despatch centres separately”.

He said there is no call to switch off either street lights or appliances in homes. “Adequate arrangements and protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand. People should be assured not to worry and continue running all appliances as usual.”

A Power Ministry spokesperson on April 3 said there would be no such impact on grid stability as everything has been taken care of.

Meanwhile, the State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC) of Uttar Pradesh has written to State utilities to take a series of steps to deal with the possibility of a sudden drop in power demand.

The SLDC in its letter asked the utilities to keep all the reactors of State grid in service while keeping capacitor banks inoperational.

The SLDC has also asked them to start load shedding from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on April 5 in a staggered manner.

Similar instructions have been given by the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation in a letter to its operational executives, saying that availability of sufficient staff should be ensured.

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