Load shedding increasing alongside heat

Demand of electricity keeps rising every day. But, production cannot be increased. Payra power plant may shut down Saturday.

A shopkeeper doing business in candlelight in Dhaka.Prothom Alo file photo

Because of the heat wave from morning till 3am the demand of electricity has gone up. Besides, the shortage in electricity supply is growing as well, as there is no increase in production.

The power distribution company is required to impose phased load shedding. It increased even further on Thursday compared to the two days, before that. In fact people in most areas of Dhaka are also struggling with more than three hours of load shedding.

Mohammadpur resident Kamrunnesa Ruhi said there was a power cut while going to bed at 12:00 Wednesday midnight. Though it resumed several times in the next three hours, it didn’t last long for more than 5 to 10 minutes every time.

There was more than two hours of load shedding during the day on Thursday. There were probably more of that at night.

Meteorologists say there could be sporadic rainfall on 8 or 9 June. That means there’s a chance of temperature remaining high in the country till 7 June.

Meanwhile, country’s largest Payra Power Plant in Patuakhali could be closing production entirely from 3 June.

This plant, which is supplying 600 megawatts of electricity at present, is closing for the lack of coal. If it shuts down load shedding could increase even further.

There has been load shedding every alternate hour in different areas of the capital right since the morning on Thursday.

Repeated load shedding since Wednesday midnight till Thursday evening put people in trouble amid the hot weather. Many are sending complaints to the power distribution company over the phone.

Not only in the capital, there is hours of load shedding in different villages of Mymensingh, Khulna and Rajshahi also. People have to endure three to four hours of load shedding even in the surrounding areas of Dhaka.

Public life has become unbearable in the heat wave going on for four days now. Though the demand of electricity has gone up because of this, sufficient electricity cannot be generated for the lack of fuel. So, load shedding’s going up in race with the heat.

Sale of rechargeable fans has increased.
Prothom Alo file photo

The sole state owned agency for transmitting power from the power plants to the national grid, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) say, load shedding crossed 2,500 megawatts Wednesday midnight.

There has been load shedding of more than 2,000 megawatts every hour throughout the night. There was average 2,000 megawatts of load shedding also during the day on Thursday. And, it might have gone up at night.  

People related to the power distribution agency however say, the electricity condition has worsened even more for no decrease in the heat. As the demand increases, so does the shortages.

The country’s largest power distribution agency, Rural Electrification Board (REB) has done 1,500 to 2,000 megawatts of load shedding every hour on Thursday. This agency supplies electricity to all the rural areas of the country.

Due to repeated power cuts every day, generators have to be run for extra hours than before. And, residents from different areas of the capital are crowding different petrol pumps to buy fuel oil for the generators.

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Dhanmondi resident Nurullah Mohammad said that power went out seven times from morning till six in the evening on Thursday. Sometimes it’s returning after an hour or sometime after half an hour.

And, it’s getting impossible to stay at home amid the heat. The cost of running generator has also gone up, he added.

Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (DESCO) and Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) are responsible for power distribution in the capital.

DESCO did maximum load shedding of 267 megawatts per hour during the day on Thursday. The demand during this time was 1,402 megawatts.

And, DPDC did maximum load shedding up to 370 megawatts while DPDC’s demand that time was about 2,000 megawatts. These two distribution companies say they are compelled to do regular load-shedding to balance the demand and supply shortages.

DESCO managing director Kausar Ameer Ali told Prothom Alo they had to continue load shedding till 3 on Wednesday night. The demand increased even further on Thursday.

And DPDC managing director Bikash Dewan said that load shedding is being done thrice on average for the supply being low.

PDB data says that the generation capacity is now 23,370 megawatts. Out of that 4,500 megawatts of electricity cannot be generated for the lack of fuel every day on an average.

Apart from that, 2,500-megawatt capacity has to be kept closed for regular maintenance. Out of the remaining 16,000 megawatts, only 12,000 to 14,000 megawatts are being generated.

As much as 47 per cent of the total power generation capacity is gas based. But, more than 5,000 megawatts of generation is remaining closed for the shortage of gas supply.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) senior vice president M Shamsul Alam told Prothom Alo that the power generation capacity is there and the capacity is being increased even more.

Yet it’s not coming to any use for the lack of fuel. Whenever the demand increases, load shedding has to be done to balance the deficit. The planning of power and energy sectors are flawed, he added.