panaji ::: 14/08/2015 …. The hard and tireless efforts of the Department of Electricity many a times are brought to a naught, not for faults of theirs but for various circumstances, factors and procedures not within their means.  Leave aside the extreme terrain, climate, putting of efforts round the clock just to provide the much sought relief to all its consumers.  The department officials have to take the heat from the people for circumstances beyond their control.

 The reasons for power outages are manifold.  Tree pruning is one of the most essential things which require to be carried out as part of pre-monsoon maintenance. Planned power shutdowns are normally arranged every year from the month of March to May for pre-monsoon maintenance.  Some of the consumers do not allow tree pruning to be executed by the department. Heated arguments too take place with line staff, resulting in abandonment of maintenance work of that stretch ultimately affecting power supply to that entire area during heavy monsoons.

 For the first time with the onslaught of rains coupled with gusty winds, there were plenty cases of uprooting of trees, insulator puncture, conductors snapping, breaking of poles, etc. affecting power supply to situations beyond our control.  Heavy lightning also lead to interruption of supply in some cases.

 This was despite carrying out of regular tree pruning as a part of pre monsoon maintenance well before the onset of rains.  Many of the coconut leaves, especially in coastal area sagged again on the line at some places and shutdowns were availed once again for pruning the branches as precautionary measures to avoid faults due to touching of such tree branches and coconut leaves.

  Pruning of coconut palms in the close vicinity of lines is done/carried out every 15 days to prevent occurrence of such faults which is practically not possible due to outage in power supply every time. The Department is only responsible for pruning of tree branches/ coconut leaves that are touching the line and not for complete cutting of trees.  The cutting of the trees has to be carried out by the concerned owner, if any plantation is exactly below the line.

 The department would also urge upon the local bodies to take initiative to identify the trees posing danger to power lines and take suitable remedial action.

 The department would also like to inform that during emergencies, contractors are engaged to attend to the break down works for early restoration of power supply.

 Formation of hair line cracks in Insulator is one of the complex reasons of line going faulty and is nightmare of line staff while tracing such fault. Occurrence of such fault is called sensitive earth fault because of punctured porcelain insulators. However, the reason for these insulators getting crack in laymen’s language is that insulators which are constantly exposed to extremely high temperature due to being in constant contact with high current carrying conductors when suddenly come in contact with water especially during first shower leads to uneven expansion and contraction thereby forming of hair line cracks in weaker / old insulators due to sudden drop in temperature. Such faults  in turn shutdowns the feeders automatically due to erroneous earthing which is detected by earth fault relay at the substation.

 Such cracked insulators which are at the height of more than 7, 9 or 11 meters from ground are difficult to identify by mere visual inspection.  Every time it rains, water enters the cracks of insulator and makes the line faulty and thereby power shutdowns automatically.  If punctured insulator bursts due to passing of high voltage then it is easy to attend to such faults but if crack is hairline then department has to rely on the expertise of field staff, based on trial and error method, by carrying out pole to pole inspection and  to locate and replace the defective insulator.

 Certain feeders, especially in villages pass through difficult terrains; water logged fields and some are about 90 to 110 kms in length.  This makes it extremely difficult to patrol during night time and hence isolation of faulty section takes time.

 Sectional isolators are fixed at various sections of the line, to minimize power outages caused due to breakdown by isolating the faulty section. To address this problem, the line staffs have to travel up to sectionalizing AB switches and isolate each section, one by one until the faulty section is detected. In most of the cases there is no proper access to reach this isolation sections by vehicle and hence the line staff has to access the area by foot.

 After the faulty section is isolated, the healthy section is restored by supplying power from alternate route and then work for detection of fault in the faulty section is taken up. This is done to ensure that the entire line is not kept off and only the faulty section is sectionalized. Once the faulty section is isolated, the same is patrolled sometimes requiring the line staff to climb up each and every pole to check the condition of insulator, opened jumpers, fallen branches and leaves etc.

 When the feeder is very lengthy, the lines staff are kept at certain distinct points along the line where the insulator is suspected to have developed fault/failed and test charge is taken on that particular feeder to identify physically the spark, during the night time, when it is totally dark.

After successful detection of the fault, the power supply is restored. It is thus evident that physically, it takes lot of time to restore the power supply. Sectionalizing of faulty feeder is a must for locating any type of fault.

 Then there are times when multiple feeders have broken down simultaneously in particular jurisdiction, wherein restoration of supply will be further delayed, as faulty section of all the feeders cannot be taken up together. Alternate feeder arrangement is done in such cases to ensure quick restoration to the healthy section of the lines. Consumers who are at the tail end of the line will have their power supply restored only on complete restoration of faulty section when the alternate feeder arrangement is not available at the tail end.

  The situation will definitely ease out and be normal, once the rains subside.  The only solution to all this could be bunched cabling, underground cabling etc. and these factors cannot be achieved without sufficient funds at our disposal and has to be planned in phased manner. The cost involved for total underground cabling of 11KV feeders is around Rs.20,000 crores.

 The department has set up an effective system to attend to the complaints of the consumers with a 24×7 call centre having 1912 as a dedicated number.

 This system of monitoring and attending complaints has been receiving people support and appreciation to a great extent. All the complaints which are received in the call centre are immediately relayed to the concerned Junior Engineer and the line staff of that particular area.  The complaints are also forwarded to the office of the Minister of Power, Secretary(Power) and Chief Electrical Engineer for further screening in understanding and resolving repeated complaints.

 This helpline number(1912) is accessible from all landlines as well as all mobile access service providers. Consumers are requested that they should avail the facility of registering the complaints with this number rather than calling the section offices.

 The department is equally concerned about the safety of its line staff employees.  The department procures and provides all the requisite quality safety tools and kits to its line staff.

 The department puts its best foot forward to address the power problems of its consumers but at the same time appeals to its entire consumer to bear up when situations are beyond our means and control.