One of the key challenges in hydropower development in the country is the lack of adequate transmission infrastructure for the evacuation of power from remote sites. The transmission utility of Uttarakhand is working to address such challenges. Incorporated in May 2004, Power Transmission Corporation of Uttarakhand Limited (PTCUL) is home to a number of hydropower projects. The transco is currently executing the Uttarakhand Integrated Transmission Project (UITP) for the evacuation of about 5,000 MW of power from the upcoming hydropower projects in the state. “The transco has set a timeline for the completion of its upcoming transmission networks to match the state’s stupendous growth in power generation capacity,” says a senior company spokesperson. PTCUL was incorporated post the unbundling of Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited. It has recorded transmission losses of less than 2 per cent over the past five years. Apart from the construction, and operations and maintenance of high voltage and extra high voltage electrical transmission lines and associated substations in Uttarakhand, the transco performs load despatch functions.
Network growth and performance
PTCUL’s transmission network comprises transmission lines and substations at the 400 kV, 220 kV and 132 kV levels. The transco owns and operates 41 substations – four at the 400 kV level, eight at 220 kV and 31 at 132 kV. Of the total line length of 3,143 ckt. km, 60 per cent operates at the 132 kV level, 26 per cent at 220 kV and the remaining at the 400 kV level. The utility’s line length has increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 66 per cent from 1,889 ckt. km in 2004-05 to 3,143 ckt. km in 2017-18. On a year-on-year basis, it has grown at a significant rate of 38 per cent in 2017-18. The transformer capacity has recorded a CAGR of 85.45 per cent since 2004-05 to stand at 8,143 MVA as of January 2018.
Over the past five years, PTCUL has achieved transmission network availability of more than 99 per cent, indicating a reliable and robust transmission network. The availability factor for 2016-17 stood at 99.33 per cent. During the period 2012-17, PTCUL also witnessed a consistent decline in transmission losses, recording transmission losses of less than 2 per cent. The transco’s losses reduced to 1.53 per cent as of March 2017 from 1.88 per cent as of March 2012.
PTCUL is a profit generating transco. Its net profits increased significantly from Rs 74.3 million in 2012-13 to Rs 391.73 million in 2016-17. During the same period, PTCUL’s total income increased at a CAGR of 15.41 per cent from Rs 1.63 billion in 2012-13 to Rs 2.89 billion in 2016-17. However, on a year-on-year basis, PTCUL’s total income decreased by about 43.22 per cent in 2016-17 from Rs 3.16 billion in 2015-16. The company’s net profit also reported a decline from Rs 690 million in 2015-16 to Rs 391.73 million in 2016-17.
PTCUL has taken several measures to improve its performance and efficiency. It lays strong emphasis on the deployment of IT solutions to enhance operational efficiency. PTCUL is the first state transmission utility in the country to have successfully transferred data, back in March 2013, using digital power line carrier communication. The utility deployed this solution to transmit data from its 220 kV substation in Roorkee to its 220 kV State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand Limited (SIDCUL) substation in Haridwar to the 400 kV substation in Rishikesh.
In 2012, it implemented a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, which communicates with 23 substations and hydroelectric projects on a real-time basis. According to the transco, it was able to avert a major grid failure in the state in August 2013 with the help of the SCADA system. The transco also uses software like PLS-CADD and PLS-TOWER for 2D/3D modelling and profiling of the transmission lines and MS-Project for monitoring purposes. For system studies and network planning, it is using the latest in-house software solutions such as mi-power and PSS. Meanwhile, PTCUL has integrated IT with business processes such as payroll, the financial accounting system, the personnel information system, the employee provident fund, the general provident fund and the management information system. The utility has also constructed a data centre and a well-connected IT training room for hosting software applications. To accelerate project implementation, the transco has made efforts to fast-track the decision-making process with the participation of all stakeholders. Further, with the introduction of e-tendering, the allocation process has become much more transparent and secure. As a result, participation has increased manyfold, thereby increasing competition in the bidding process.
On the transmission technology front, PTCUL is currently installing an optical ground wire network on about 1,200 km of transmission line length, connecting all its 132 kV substations. To strengthen the existing network, it has initiated the replacement of existing conductors with high tension low sag conductors to prevent the overloading of lines. Renovation and modernisation of key substations, being implemented under the Power System Development Fund scheme, is under progress and around 70 per cent of the work has been completed. In addition, the utility has reviewed the entire system and has built more robust controls and checks wherever required. With this, inventory levels have reduced. Further, the blocked funds in the inventory are being utilised in an efficient manner. There is also focus on providing skill development training to all the employees so that they can keep pace with the technological advancements. Further, PTCUL has reduced the net interest burden on state consumers through improvement in the credit rating given by the Power Finance Corporation (PFC). PFC has upgraded the ratings of PTCUL from A+ to A++, thereby reducing the interest burden by 0.5 per cent.
By 2020-21, PTCUL plans to add 986 ckt. km of line length and 1,270 MVA of transformer capacity. In 2018-19, PTCUL expects to develop three more substations with a transformer capacity of 200 MVA and a total line length of 394 ckt. km. Of the planned line length, 277 ckt. km will be constructed at the 220 kV level, 75 ckt. km at the 132 kV level and the remaining 42 ckt. km at the 400 kV level. During 2019-20 and 2020-21, the transco aims to add a total line length of 406 ckt. km and 186 ckt. km and a transformer capacity of 790 MVA and 280 MVA respectively. Meanwhile, the UITP has been granted deemed interstate transmission system status by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. It is being undertaken with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank and PFC.
The transco is also looking to deploy some new and emerging technologies to facilitate the development of cost-effective high capacity transmission corridors and improve efficiency. To further improve the reliability and security of the system and increase profitability in the future, the utility is planning to augment transmission capacity using flexible AC transmission system devices, deploy the geographic information system for mapping of transmission assets, enable substation automation through a state-of-the-art SCADA system, and undertake energy accounting.
Net, net, PCTUL’s capacity addition plans along with a strong focus on new IT and transmission technology solutions are expected to enhance the operational performance of the state’s transmission network in the long run, besides ensuring smooth and reliable evacuation of power from future hydro projects.