SHILLONG, April 24 - Meghalaya, a power-surplus State a few decades ago, is currently reeling under a severe power crisis with daily loadshedding and the State power corporation in a financial mess.
At one point of time, the State used to supply surplus power to Assam and the neighbouring State owed a substantial amount of money to Meghalaya for the power supplied. But that was a decade back.
Now the State is reeling under a severe power shortage. Different parts of the State undergo loadshedding for at least one hour during the daytime and about four hours at night.
To add to its woes, the State Government owes over Rs 550 crore to the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO). In the absence of payment of the dues, the NEEPCO has regulated power supply to the State.
There are various reasons for this shortage. The State has not been able to commission new power projects to meet the growing power demands of the State.
As of now, the Meghalaya Power Generation Corporation Limited (MePGCL) has an installed capacity of 354.70 MW from eight power stations. These power stations generate about 1225. 92 million units annually.
Most of the power is generated from hydro projects which are vulnerable to the vagaries of the monsoon. During the lean monsoon season beginning October-November, the power crisis starts and runs till May-June.
According to a report, the peak demand-supply gap has kept growing from November last year till March this year. In November 2018, the peak demand was 342 MW and the power available was 307 MW. In December, the demand was 406 MW and power available was 289 MW.
In January this year, the peak demand was 364 MW while only 274 MW was available. In February, 230 MW was the demand and 234 MW was available. In March also, the demand was 328 MW and the available power was only 237 MW.
Over the years, the NEEPCO has bailed out the State in such cases. But since the public sector company has started regulating supply, there is no way out at this moment.
Another factor for the crisis is the mismanagement of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited. The Corporation is run by bureaucrats instead of technocrats. Successive governments have unsuccessfully tried to bring in more technocrats to run the Corporation.
Recently, its distribution wing, the Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited (MPDCL), signed pacts with FEDCO and Sai Computers for input-based distribution of power for MPDCL.
The Shunglu Committee report recommended having distribution franchisees to cut distribution losses. Several States have actually benefited from the recommendation. However, in Meghalaya, the move was opposed by the union of the Corporation.
Until new power plants are commissioned and the financial health and management of the Corporation improves, Meghalaya would be reeling under darkness for a long time, observers said.