KATHMANDU, Nepal – Nepalis are forced to reel under total darkness for the whole half month beginning Sunday, thanks to the latest decision of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to increase power cuts to 12 hours a day.
The state power monopoly in the country has extended load-shedding hours from the earlier nine hours a day to 12 hours beginning Sunday. The new schedule has forced Nepalis to cope with 84 hours a week in darkness.
With the demand of electricity increased with winter contrary to the flow of water in the river that go down in dry season, NEA use to impose heavy power cuts according to its power generation status. More than 80 percent of country’s hydro-power projects are run-of-the-river power stations and power generation from these projects goes down by as much as 60 percent during the dry season.
For the same reason, the NEA had imposed load-shedding up to 19 hours last year. However, only last week Energy Minister Umakant Jha promised to contain power cuts within 12 hours a day this year. But, viewing the previous years’ trend and the opinion of the NEA officials, chances of more black out hours likely in the future days.
According to the NEA, the power demand goes up to 100 MW during the dry season as compared to the wet season and it is hard to balance the demand and supply chain.
At present, there is a demand for 1,100 MW a day while we have been able to supply only 575 MW to 600 MW. The NEA projected the demand for power to go up to 1,200 MW a day during this year’s dry season.
Industrial consumers have been hit harder with the new schedule. NEA sources said load-shedding for industrial consumers have been extended to 14 hours a day.
All most all the industries are forced to manage back-up power by installing diesel plants at their factory premises that also hiked production costs.
Likewise, general consumers have also begun to install back-up electricity facilities in their residences to escape the dark hours.
Tough the country has commercially viable hydroelectricity potential of up to 45,000 MW which remains largely untapped, tens of millions of dollars are flowing out of the country every year to import inverters and mini solar panels for household purposes.