This crisis has been building up for the past decade. But the demand is nowdouble supply in the winter months.
Domestic power demand is increasing by 10 per cent annually while the production is constant. According to NEA, the 10th Five-Year Plan target was to produce 314 MW but only 40 MW was generated over the period. Just two weeks ago, Prime Minister Dahal inaugurated German funded 70 MW Middle Marsyangdi project, but it turned out to be an eyewash. The plant will take another six months to generate power and add it to the grid.
This is a perennial problem of the country around this time of the year as the snow-fed rivers run dry in winter. This year, most of the country has suffered a three-month drought.
In addition, the Kosi flood washed out the NEA's transmission line in Sunsari disrupting import of electricity from India. "It wouldn't have been so bad if the transmission line was still intact," says Jugal Kishor Shah, general manager, transmission and system operation at the NEA.Nepal was importing 60 MW from Bihar during the winter in previous year.
Nepal has only 619 MW installed hydro-electricity, but the peak demand has already reached 750 MW. In winter, generation falls to below 400 MW. "This crisis will continue and length of daily load shedding will increase further," Shah warns. The NEA revised load shedding schedule thrice within this month-first 43 hours, then 63 hours and now 82 hour per week.
The prolonged power outage has crippled industry, with an 80 per cent fall in production, and it will have a major impact on economic growth.
After the announcement of national power emergency situation, the government has come up with National Energy Crisis Working Plan. The government will re-negotiate the Power Purchase Agreement rates with hydropower projects that produce energy up to 25 MW. It removed the permission from ministries to construct projects up to 50 MW and Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) distribution campaign.
It will also give a 10-year income tax waiver for hydro projects to be commissioned within two years. In addition, the cabinet has approved the proposition of installing a 200MW diesel-run thermal plant calling for a proposal from the private sector.
The government has no other immediate option to ease the power crisis except to go for diesel generation. However, it will take at least a year to set up the plant besides huge investment. "We have to be prepared to bear at least of 14 hours power-cut this season," Shah says.