Kulekhani water level lowest in three years

Published On: November 9, 2016 01:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Power generation to fall by 13.5 million units: NEA officials
KATHMANDU, Nov 9: Water level in the Kulekhani Reservoir, which feeds two hydropower plants, has reached only 1522.55 meters this year -- the lowest point in three years.
This means that only lifeline for stabilizing power supply can generate less electricity this year compared to last year. 

Santosh Kumar Jha, chief of Kulekhani II Hydropower Project, said that the lower water level means power generation of both the plants will fall by approximately 13.5 million units less. 

Despite good rainfall in most parts of the country, water level in the reservoir could not reach the 1528-meter mark, the maximum capacity, as the catchment area of the reservoir received low rainfall.

Water level in the reservoir had reached 1525 meters last year, generating 107 million units of electricity in the last fiscal year. The water level had reached 1530.12 meters in 2014 when Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) put up sacks filled with sand on the rim of the dam to store more water. That year, the two Kulekhani projects had generated 134 million units. The sacks have been removed after the earthquakes of 2015.

Kulekhani I has installed capacity of 60 MW, while its downstream project, Kulekhani II, generates 32 MW. Power generation by both the projects has seen a decline over the past two years.

NEA operates the plants particularly for managing power supply in the peak hours. The plan was operated in full capacity on the day of Laxmi Pooja (October 30) when demand rose to 1444 MW.

“Since then, both the plants are being operated as per the direction of the Load Dispatch Center, Syuchatar, depending on the demand size," said Jha.

Only one unit of the Kulekhani projects, which is half of the total capacity, is operated for about two hours in the evening when energy demand hits peak, according to Jha.

NEA officials say that the lower water level in Kulekhani Reservoir directly affects the plan to manage power supply in peak hours. Bishnu Kumar Shrestha, chief of NEA's Load Dispatch Center, said: "Reduction in water level means that the generation of Kulekhani projects will fall by around 13.5 million units. But it won't make much impact as we are looking to import additional energy from India,” Shrestha added.

NEA plans to import an additional 150 MW from India on top of about 330 MW being imported at present. 

Kul Man Ghising, managing director of NEA, has announced an ambitious plan of eliminating power cuts from the Kathmandu Valley in the first phase. The success of the plan also depends on whether NEA manages to bring additional energy from the southern neighbor. Crucial to the plan is the Dhalkebar substation which is being constructed on a war footing.

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