Load shedding higher in rural areas

Load sheddingProthom Alo file photo

Although the country is witnessing record electricity generation, people in parts of the country are not getting uninterrupted power supply despite scorching heat.

People in the capital are suffering from power outage due to technical faults while some areas outside Dhaka saw load shedding due to shortfall in power supply.

Power division sources say a target of 16,000 megawatts of production was taken up in the coming month of May. However, demand exceeded 16,000 MW in April due to scorching heat for the last couple of weeks.

Amid this, the maximum electricity 15604 MW was produced last night. The hottest hours of the day span from afternoon to evening. The maximum power generation is 14000 MW at this time. Sometimes there is a shortage of more than 2000 MW.

However, the situation is better than July last year. The government implemented planned load shedding to save energy due to dollar crunch at the time.

The power division had anticipated load shedding could be avoided if large coal based power plants came into production at the beginning of summer. India's Adani Group has been supplying more than 750 MW of electricity per day since 6 April. More than 1,200 megawatts are now available from Payra, the country's largest power plant. However, one unit at Barapukuria, which runs on its own coal supply, is closed.

Rampal power plant was shut down three days ago due to mechanical faults. The plant has already shut down several times since the start of production last December. Three units of Ashuganj gas-based power plant have been shut down due to technical reasons.

According to the data of Power Development Board (PDB), the current power generation capacity is 22,566 MW. Among them, 2000 megawatts cannot be produced due to lack of fuel (gas, oil, coal, water). And 3,241 MW cannot be produced due to mechanical faults and maintenance issues.

PDB supplies electricity to all distribution companies. It is then supplied to consumers by six electricity distribution companies. Officials of four companies outside Dhaka said, power supply is not available as per demand. So load shedding has to be implemented outside Dhaka. During the daytime on Monday, load shedding was more than 1000 megawatts across the country despite maximum production. Earlier, there was more than 2000 MW of load shedding in the country from one to three hours in the morning.

However, PDB member (Production) SM Wazed Ali Sardar told Prothom Alo that some power plants, including Rampal, are closed due to technical faults. Repair works are ongoing. Record electricity has been produced to meet demand.

Authorities has still been trying to produce electricity at maximum capacity.

Rural people suffering the most

People of most of the areas in Mymensingh are suffering from load shedding. PDB Mymensingh chief engineer Rafiqul Islam said that in six districts of Mymensingh, the supply shortage is 300 to 400 MW compared to the demand.

Officials of Sylhet PDB and Palli Bidyut Samity say that, the supply of electricity has decreased compared to the demand since 13 April. Due to this, load shedding has to be implemented in different areas.

General manager of Sylhet Palli Bidyut Samity-1, Aktaruzzaman Lashkar said the shortage was 20 MW on Monday. As the day progresses the demand for electricity supply goes up. Load shedding has to be enforced every hour or an hour and a half.

The Gas-Electricity Consumer Welfare Council has demanded there is no load shedding in Sylhet.

General manager of Noakhali Palli Bidyut Samity Zakir Hossain said, one-third of the demand is deficit. So no schedule for load shedding can be followed.

REB faces shortage

Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (REB) is the country's largest electricity distribution company supplying electricity to rural areas. Around 55 per cent of electricity consumers are under REB. In summer, the demand for electricity has also increased in rural areas.

But power supply is not available. Crisis intensifies from afternoon to evening, sometimes at night as well.

Debashish Chakraborty, a member (distribution and management) of the organisation told Prothom Alo that efforts are being made to supply electricity on a priority basis. Load shedding is being adjusted.

REB data shows, the highest demand was 9,550 MW last Sunday while the company could supply 7,766 MW during the time. Load shedding of 1,784 MW was enforced.

On the same day last year, REB load shedding was only 133 MW. REB has carried out maximum load shedding of 2,229 MW last Saturday. Maximum load shedding has been imposed in Khulna and Mymensingh regions followed by Rajshahi, Rangpur, Cumilla and Sylhet regions. Load shedding in Dhaka division was nominal. And Barisal region did not experience any outage at all.

Technical fault in Dhaka

Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC) and Dhaka Electric Supply Company (DESCO) supply electricity in the capital Dhaka.

The data from these two organisations say that the demand for electricity has increased more than usual. Supply is available as per the demand. Power transmission lines have not been upgraded in line with power generation capacity. So now some power distribution transformers fail to take additional supply.

Power supply is interrupted by sudden power trip. The people of Banasree faced several hours of power outage since the morning due to the breakdown of the transformer on Monday.

DESCO has a peak demand of 1,000 to 1,200 MW in summer. This time up to 1,291 MW have been supplied. At this time, the normal demand of DPDC is supposed to be 1,600 to 1,800 MW. Maximum supply is 1,865 MW.

Due to unbearable heat, many people are installing new AC. Because of this more electricity is being consumed.

As a result, the power supply stopped as the individual power lines cannot take the pressure. In some places, the power goes out frequently. Customers are complaining about load shedding.

However, DPDC managing director Bikash Dewan and DESCO managing director Kausar Ameer Ali told Prothom Alo that there is no shortage of power supply. They are not carrying out any load shedding. There are some technical problems. However, if a consumer requests to increase the load, it is increased.

Rain can bring relief

The government started planned load shedding from July last year to save energy due to the dollar crisis. After the onset of winter, it decreased by December. However, some load shedding has been carried out in the rural areas even during winter. The heat was fairly bearable from March to the first week of April. After that, as the temperature rises, the power supply situation exacerbates. If the heat wave goes away, the demand for electricity will go down as well. The load shedding may reduce then.

Consumer rights organisation Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) says that electricity prices have been increased three times from January to March. Electricity prices have been increased 11 times at the bulk level and 13 times at the consumer level in the past 14 years. Yet the people are suffering due to heat.

CAB senior vice president M Shamsul Alam told Prothom Alo that the government has not been able to ensure uninterrupted power supply despite increasing the prices.

The authorities adjust the shortage by carrying out load shedding in the rural areas. It would be tolerable if the load shedding have been implemented proportionately.

"And when the well-offs face a power outage, the problem of this sector will also be solved quickly. We have to rely on rain instead of power supply to get relief from the heat," Shamsul Alam added.