Unscheduled power outages short-circuit industrial yield

City Top Story

Even though Karnataka is a power-surplus state, industries in Bengaluru incur losses in production due to power failures.

By Jagriti Parakh

Frequent unscheduled power outages have adversely affected productivity in Bengaluru’s major industrial areas. Industries struggle with lengthy outages with no information on how long they will last.

Data available with Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) shows that more than 22 unscheduled power cuts due to power failure were recorded across the city till 3 PM on Thursday, October 10, 2019. Of these, 13 were in the Peenya, Nelamangala and Kanakpura Division, which cover the three major industrial areas in Bengaluru.

Many areas in Bengaluru experience power cuts while Bescom carries out maintenance work as several transformers need repair

Sony Kurian, a metal fabricator, said “Our factory contains equipment lines necessary for metal plate processing, coating, assembling, inspection and packing. All of this requires continuous power supply. Any sort of interruption, short or long, disrupts the entire process and sometimes even damages the raw materials. Tons of metal is wasted if there’s a power cut during processes like annealing and tempering.”

Ganesh R., an industrial equipment manufacturer, said “If we have any prior information of power outage, we either change the schedule or run the machinery on generator. But most of the time these are sudden outages, so we do not get the time to shift the load to generators without interrupting the process.”

Heavy machinery takes longer time to restart, further cutting the production time.

Members of Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) pointed out that business has taken a severe hit.

Umesh S Madivala, Deputy Secretary, FKCCI, said, “Reliability of power supply is crucial to productivity and profitability of food, flour milling, apparel making, metal fabrication, pharma, electronics and other industries. Every time there is a power cut, it takes around 20 to 30 minutes to restart all the heavy machinery. On some days, the power goes off for 15 to 20 minutes, two to three times. All the production time is lost because of the unannounced outages.”

Karnataka is a power-surplus state, so there is no need for power outage for meeting the demand. Amidst these recurrent power failures, BESCOM provides reasons like trees falling on utility lines, tripping feeders and maintenance work.

Radhika P., Assistant Executive Engineer, Peenya Division, BESCOM, said, “Bangalore doesn’t have any scheduled power outages, but sometimes we cut the power supply to a division or sub-division owing to any disruption in the power line or due to certain unavoidable reasons. These unscheduled power cuts might also happen because of maintenance work or a tree falling on a power line. We cannot make prior announcements for such power failures.”

Trees growing between the power lines is one of the major reasons for power failure in Bengaluru.

Experts say that while natural causes are unavoidable, power outage for maintenance and other works by BESCOM can be notified well in advance.

Prabhakar MG, Member, Advisory Committee of Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission, said, “There is no declared load shedding in Karnataka. It may be because of local reasons, other than the lack of power supply. If there is a power cut in between the lengthy processes like heat treatment, or metal cooldown and moulding, the whole cycle goes bad, because there is a time lag while switching over to diesel generators and electric generators. There are instances when entire batches of production had to be rejected because of this. In addition to the production time, the industrialists also lose on labor time.

This can be avoided if the power utility informs in advance about the power outage for maintenance work and sticks to the schedule. They must also administer the power lines frequently in order to avoid sudden failures.”

Residents are as infuriated as the industrialists, but the consequence of unannounced power outages for industries is more evident because of the measured economic losses associated with it.