HISTORY OF ELECTRICITY IN KERALA
S N College, Kollam.
|Dr. D Shina|
Recently, a multitude of problems are popping up in the field of electricity industry. This has attracted keen attention from policy formers around the globe, and rigorous efforts to tackle these problems have become the order of the day. Industrial growth has been so fast and explosive in these years that the increase in energy supply could not maintain an equal pace.
The major problems faced worldwide are fast depletion of non-renewable energy sources, increasing costs for energy, and inability to create sufficient returns for investment for growth. These problems have created a shortage of power in both quantity and quality. Electricity industry was mainly treated as a Government business worldwide, considering its importance as a vital infrastructure for the growth of the country. But growth in the sector, however impressive it was, looked insufficient to cope with the impulsive growth in industrial and other sectors. Consequently, the whole vision on the subject has been undergoing a swift change. A major shift in electrical industry worldwide is the thinking that the industry is to be managed by the private sector rather than by the government. Thus, an era of reform for the power sector has opened up. Reforms different in nature and extent were tried in many parts of the world.
The repercussions of these changes are felt in this part of the world also. In Kerala too, the conditions are not different and the situations call for a detailed probe into the problems. Though Kerala could achieve considerable growth in the sector and could help the overall growth of the state in industrial, economic and agricultural fields, the shortcomings were not negligible
The history of electricity in the state is around one century old. The first effort in this direction was a private endeavour. Like many other modern infrastructure facilities, electricity also was first brought to the state by a British company, the Kannan Devan Hill Produce Company, Munnar. The first generating station of the state was set up on the right bank of a tributary of River Periyar in 19104. It was a hydroelectric project and that tributary named Mudirappuzha continues to be the site of large a number of hydroelectric projects in the state.
After a spell of 17 years, the attention of the state authorities turned to newer forms of generating energy. The Government of Travancore set up a facility to supply electricity to the households of Thiruvananthapuram town. In 1927, a Thermal Power Station was established under government ownership at Thiruvananthapuram for production of electrical energy on commercial lines. Three oil engine generators, of a capacity of 65 kW each, were installed and commercial production started in 1929.This station was located at Thampanoor at Thiruvananthapuram. An Electrical Wing under the State Public Works Department was entrusted with the administration of the scheme. The next significant development was the formation of a separate department for electricity in 1932 by His Highness Sri Chithirathirunal Maharaja and his Diwan Sir C P Ramaswami Iyer. The formation of the Electricity Department paved the way for notable developments in the field. Thermal generating stations were set up at Kollam, Kottayam and Nagerkoil in 1934. By that time, the possibilities of hydroelectric generation attracted the attention of the technologists and the authorities. Kerala being a land of mountains and rivers, it presented a fertile field for hydroelectric generation. The vast potential for hydroelectric generation in the state prompted the state authorities to take steps to establish stations for hydroelectric generation. The first of these ventures was the Pallivasal Hydroelectric Project, the construction of which was started in 1933. The first stage of the project was commissioned in 1940. Its capacity was 13.5 mW. By that time, a comparable electric transmission network had also been completed with 66 kV substations at Alappuzha, Mavelikkara, Kothamangalam, Kundara, Kalamasserry, Viyyur, Aluva, and Thiruvananthapuram. All these substations were commisssioned during April- May 1940
The establishment of a hydroelectric station under state ownership started a new era in the history of the energy scenario of the state. Gradually, growth in electric consumption acquired momentum in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors. The availability of cheap power was a boon to the total growth of the state in various sectors. The total generation during 1940, i.e. the year of establishing the Pallivasal projects was only 3.36 million units, which was followed by a steady growth in the subsequent years. The picture of the growth for the first ten years after the commissioning of the Pallivasal Hydroelectric was really impressive. The total annual generation grew to 121.3 mu within the first decade. It can be seen that the growth was encouraging, considering the limited administrative capabilities available in that period. Within ten years, a considerable growth in demand as well as generation occurred. The emergence and exit of private operators, the formation of Electricity Department, etc. occurred during this period.
Matters regarding generation and supply of electrical energy were regulated in pre independence India by the Electricity Supply Act 1910. The Government of India felt that "the coordinated development of Electricity in India on a regional basis was a matter of increasing urgent importance for post-war reconstruction and development. The absence of a coordinated system in which generation was concentrated in the most efficient units and bulk supply of energy centralized under the direction and control of one authority was one of the factors that impeded the healthy and economical growth of electrical development in country. Besides, it was becoming more and more apparent that if the benefit of Electricity was to be extended to semi-urban and rural areas in the most efficient and economical manner, consistent with the needs of an entire region, the area of development must transcend geographical units"7. Thus, the need for a comprehensive system of planning and implementation for the overall control of the electric network of the country was well recognized. The system consisting of the generation units, the transmission networks, the distribution networks and the final consumers, technically known as the grid system, badly needed regional / central administration and control. For this purpose, constitution of semi- autonomous bodies was found to be necessary. This necessitated the enactment of a fresh bill to 'provide for the rationalization of the production and supply of electricity and generally for taking measures conducive to electrical development'
The Electricity (Supply) Act 1948 was thus enacted by the Government of India, 'to develop a sound, adequate and uniform national power policy, and particularly to co-ordinate the activities of the planning agencies in relation to the control and utilization of national power resources and for the constitution of state electricity boards'.
As stated above, the Electricity (Supply) Act 1948, which was enacted by the Government of India, ‘to develop a sound adequate and uniform national power policy, and particularly to co-ordinate the activities of the planning agencies in relation to the control and utilization of national power resources,’ led to the constitution of the State electricity Boards in various states under section 5 of the Act. Until the enactment of the Electricity Act 2003, the Act of 1948 had been in force.
The Kerala State Electricity Board was formed, on 1st April 1957 in order to cater to the electricity needs of the State, as the successor of the Electricity Department of the Kerala State. The growth of electricity system for Kerala took an unprecedented pace after the formation of the Kerala State Electricity Board. Speedy completion of the already started generation projects and starting of newer projects was the first task taken up by the Board. The implementation of the First Five-year plan was already completed by the Travancore Electricity Department. The installed capacity had grown to 86 mW. There were about 79, 000 consumers by that time with a total revenue of Rs.200 lakhs. There were 15 Extra High Tension Substations, 3783 km of low tension lines, and 3800 km of high voltage lines.
Faster development in electricity generation
In the initial years of the KSEB, the growth in installed capacity was rather fast so that electricity availability was considered abundant in the State. The development in those times concentrated on hydro-electric projects. However, the state of affairs started reversing in the later years as the development of generation schemes lagged much behind development in other sectors. A large number of bigger hydro-electric stations were established.
Six units of 50 mW each of the Sabarigiri Hydroelectric Project were commissioned during 1966 –67, thus making a total capacity of 300 mW. The commissioning of a station that had a far greater capacity than those of the older stations was a major milestone in the history of power system development in the State. The annual generation capacity of the Sabarigiri Project is 1338 mu. The station functioned well for about 40 years fetching revenue much more than the initial investment and now it is undergoing renovation process. Three units of 25 mW each of the Kuttiadi Hydroelectric Project were commissioned during 1972, thus making a total capacity of 75 mW. The annual generation capacity of the station was 268 mu.
The commissioning of the Idukki Hydroelectric Project was a major breakthrough in the power development of the State. Six units of 130 mW each of the Project were commissioned during 1976-86, thus making a total capacity of 780 mW, which was a huge leap in the installed capacity of the State. The Project, which was among the large stations of the country, was a unique one using many innovative technologies. The arch dam concept, underground powerhouse, electronic and automatic controls, etc., are a few among them. The annual generation capacity was also an all-high at 2455 mu. Still, even after a lapse of nearly three decades, a station of comparable capacity is yet to be formed in the State.
The commissioning of the Idukki Hydroelectric Project created an illusion that power would remain abundant for many years and this caused serious lethargy in the planning and starting of new major projects. The commissioning of the next generating station was effected only in 1987. Two units of 37.5 mW each of the Idamalayar Hydroelectric Project were commissioned, thus making a total capacity of 75 mW. The annual generation capacity was 380 mu.
The Kallada Hydroelectric Project was an effort to tap the potential of smaller water resources. The output from an already existing reservoir was utilized here. Two units of 7.5 mW each of the project were commissioned during 1994, thus making a total capacity of 15 mW. The annual generation capacity was 65 mu. The need for tapping smaller water resources was badly felt by this time because of the environmental difficulties for larger projects. The Peppara Station is such a unit. It is a small hydroelectric project with one unit and a capacity of 3 mw and generation capacity of 11.5mu. Three units of 60 mW each of the Lower Periyar Hydroelectric Project were commissioned during 1997, thus making a total capacity of 180 mW, with an annual generation capacity of 493 mu.
Mattuuppetty is a small hydroelectric project with one unit and a capacity of 2 mw and generation capacity of 6.4mu. This station also started yet another era of small hydroelectric projects in the State. The Peringalkuth Left Bank Station was commissioned during 1999. The capacity was 16 mw in one unit. The mu capacity was 74. The Kakkad Hydroelectric Project had two units of 25 mW each, totaling 50 mW. Commissioned during 1999, its annual generation mu capacity was 262
The Kuttiadi Extension Project commissioned during 2001 has a capacity of 50 mW in two units of 25 mW each. The annual generation capacity in mu was 75.
Malampuzha was a small project with a single unit of 2.5 mW and a mu capacity of 5.6. It was commissioned during 2001.
New Projects – Non-hydroelectric
The over-dependence on hydroelectric projects created acute power shortages during the years in which the monsoon failed. This led to the realization of the necessity for other forms of electricity generation. Thermal stations thus came into being. Non-conventional energy sources were, however, only sparingly used.
The Brahmapuram Diesel Power Plant marked the start of yet another new era in the Kerala in electricity generation that is thermal generation. The Brahmapuram Diesel Power Plant has five generators with a capacity of 21.32 mW each totalling to106.6 mW. The units were commissioned during 1997-99. The total generation capacity was 606 mu. The Kozhikode Diesel Power Plant has eight generators with a capacity of 16 mW each. The units were commissioned during 1999. The total capacity was 128 mW and the annual generation capacity was 896 mu. The Kanjikode (experimental) Wind Farm has nine units of 0.225 mW each, thus totaling 2 mW. The total generation capacity was 4 mu20
The latest trend both in Kerala as well as in the country is outsourcing of electricity generation. As such, other operators started coming to this field. The National Thermal Power Corporation, other private companies, etc., thus started Generating Stations in the State. The Kayamkulam Thermal Power Station owned by the National Thermal Power Corporation has now a completed capacity of 359.58 mw with three units of 116.6 mW each. The units with annual generation capacity of 2158 mu were commissioned during 1998-99. A further development of the station into a super-thermal power plant with a capacity above 2000 mW is on the anvil.
B.S.E.S was a thermal power station in the private sector with a total capacity of 157 mW (1099 mu annually), commissioned during 2001-2002. The Kasargode Power Corporation was also a private sector thermal project with a capacity of 21.9 mw (140 mu annual generation), commissioned during 2001.
The growth of the Kerala Power SystemAfter the formation of the Kerala State Electricity Board, there has been considerable growth in all the parameters of the Kerala Power System. The growth has been swift from the end of the Second Five-year plan, i.e., from 1961.