The 400 kV cross-border power line started operating from Wednesday, two days after the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and India’s NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam signed a temporary power supply agreement on Monday. The import of additional power started with electricity being charged for the first time on this high-capacity transmission line.
“Electricity started charging on the power line at around 4 pm on Wednesday. Initially, around 15 MW of power will be imported. The line will be tested for 20-22 hours before the load is gradually increased to the planned 80 MW.” -Bhuwan Chhetri, chief of the NEA’s Load Dispatch Centre.
The NEA plans to conduct the test transmission for a week.
As per the deal reached between the NEA and the NTPC, Nepal will import 80 MW of energy through the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur power line for the next four and a half months with possibility of extension. Nepal’s peak-hour power demand amounts to 1,325 MW while the supply totals 500 MW, including 300 MW generated domestically and 200 MW imported from India, according to the NEA.
With the country reeling under load-shedding lasting 13 hours daily, the flow of additional power from India is expected to be a tremendous relief. However, the NEA is not sure whether the rolling blackout hours can be reduced even with the extra power from India. It expects to be able to shave two hours off the load-shedding schedule.
The NEA will pay Rs5.5 per unit to NTPC for the imported electricity. Earlier, it had demanded Rs8.8 per unit. The NEA has claimed that it is the cheapest rate Nepal will be paying after the 70 million units of free power the country has been receiving from India from Tanakpur as per the Mahakali Treaty.
According to the NEA, it will have to pay around Rs300 million to the Indian company for the 80 MW. In 2014-15, Nepal’s power import bill came to Rs10 billion, according to NEA statistics.