A man lights a kerosene lamp in his house as a power outage hits the area.
File photo

A series of power outage has hit the country over the past two days despite comparatively the low demand of electricity in winter.

Situation became normal across capital on Tuesday a day after load shedding hit various place of Dhaka on Monday. Power outage, however, occurred various locations outside Dhaka city. Shortage of fuel has hit power generation despite having the capacity to produce electricity.

Officials of power generation, supply and distribution companies said most of power stations that run on fuel oil remain closed in bid to reduce production cost. In the meantime, power generation dropped significantly at three coal and gas-fired power stations, causing a deficit in power supply.

The Rampal thermal power plant in Bagerhat started supplying electricity to the national grid on a trial basis on 18 December last year. Power supply stopped all of a sudden on Monday and the plant is yet to go on full operation. Power supply from two plants in Bhola and Barisahl also dropped on Monday. As a result, low supply of electricity from these three stations is triggering power outage.

According to the power division, Bangladesh has a capacity of producing more than 22,000 megawatts of electricity. Maximum 14,742 megawatts of electricity was generated in summer against a demand of 12-14 thousand megawatts daily.

Demand of electricity fell to 7-9 thousand megawatts in winter. Yet, power outage has hit the country. There was a load shedding of over 1,100 megawatts of electricity on Monday, causing miseries to dwellers in Dhaka, while load shedding of over about 1,000 megawatts occurred on Tuesday.

The managing director of Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (DESCO), which distributes electricity to parts of Dhaka, Kausar Ameer Ali, and the managing director of Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC), which supplies electricity to another part of Dhaka, Bikash Dewan, told Prothom Alo there was no load shedding in Dhaka since power supply was normal on Tuesday.

However, power outage reportedly hit various places outside Dhaka. The Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB), which is the largest power distribution company of the country, is receiving less supply of electricity than its demand. BREB supplies power to 55 per cent of total electricity users.

The agency separately resorted to up to 600 megawatts of load shedding on Monday night and during daylight on Tuesday and up to 800 megawatts of load shedding on Tuesday night.

Power outage hit repeatedly in several locations in rural areas under the jurisdiction of BREB. Repeated load shedding also reportedly hit in Sylhet city on Tuesday.

Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) member (generation) SM Wazed Ali Sardar claimed efforts are on to improve the power generation situation.

He told Prothom Alo power generation dropped in three power plants in Rampal, Bhola and Barishal. They cannot operate the oil-fired power stations in full capacity because of some limitations, but all-out effort is on to make the power supply situation normal, he added.

According to BPDB, Bangladesh currently has a capacity to generate more than 7,000 megawatts of electricity from liquid fuel. Maximum 1,500 megawatts of electricity was produced on Tuesday. Sources said privately run oil-fired power plants are also reluctant to go on operation due to the arrears for the past couple of months.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, consumers’ rights body Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) senior vice president M Shamsul Alam said power tariff is being raised in addition to government subsidy, taking a 6 per cent rise in power generation into consideration.

So, uninterrupted power supply must be ensured and the government cannot do it. A rise in power tariff will be a cheating when load shedding is happening due to a shortage of primary fuel and arrears of power stations, he added.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna