With around 8,000 Mw of power projects in various stages of development, the coastal district of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu is well on its way to emerge as the country's largest in terms of power generation. A total of Rs 42,000 crore is being invested in these projects - roughly half, according to Tuticorin Collector G Prakash, will come from public sector utilities.
The projects should be all done by 2015. From being a power-deficit state, Tamil Nadu will become power-surplus and, ironically, the big issue will be on how the power will be evacuated from Tuticorin. The government-owned Power Grid Corporation, says it will set up enough transmission capacity. Tuticorin port is also to be expanded, to be able to handle the larger coal vessels to meet the import needs of the new plants being set up.
According to the state's power minister, Arcot N Veerasamy, with a projected growth of 8 per cent per annum, the state's demand will be around 14,000 Mw by 2011-12, against the current power capacity of 10,122 Mw. By 2011, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) Chairman C P Singh adds, this gap will be bridged. Tamil Nadu, he added, has a per capita power consumption of over 1,000 units, way above the national average of 672 units.
The Thoothukudi Thermal Power Station (TTPS) is the biggest power station in TNEB, with five units of 210 Mw each in the district, each generating 50 million units of energy daily. This is expanding capacity by 1,050 Mw. Along with Neyveli Lignite Corporation, TNEB is setting up another 1,000-Mw unit, and a 1,600-Mw one along with BHEL (the Udangudi Thermal Power Project).
The Hyderabad-based Ind-Barath Power Gen Ltd is setting up a 1,320-Mw (660x2) power plant at Manapad (the plant will be up by 2015); a 450-Mw project is to be shifted from Karnataka to Tuticorin; and a 450-Mw plant at Swaminathan is to be completed with 20 months. A 210-Mw project at Mela Arasadi village will be functional from May this year.
The Tuticorin Port has also received expression of interest (EOI) proposals from two companies to set up a Rs 1,200-crore power plant at Hare Island. A 5-Mw project is being set up at Srivaikunda Talum by Rajkumar Impex Pvt Ltd.
Apart from thermal-based power plants, the district has also started attracting wind-based power units. Around 50 Mw of wind farm output capapcity has been installed. A captive wind farm with a capacity of 7.5 Mw by Chennai Port Trust at an investment of Rs 40.7 crore and a 6-Mw wind farm by Tuticorin Port Trust at Veppilian Kulam, with an investment of around Rs 42 crore, are in the pipeline.
To evacuate this power, Power Grid Corporation's Southern Region-II is planning to invest around Rs 2,300 crore to add 2,000 circuit kms across three states of South India by March 31, 2012, and to add substations. The region includes Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
Tamil Nadu alone is likely to get half the proposed investment. Power Grid currently has 6,000 circuit km across the three states and another 1,000 circuit km is in the development stage. Besides, the corporation is planning to add new substations, with an investment of around Rs 600 crore. Tuticorin Port is planning to develop infrastructure worth around Rs 1,000 crore which would handle larger coal vessels, which would cater to upcoming power plants.
NLC is also setting up a facility inside the port with an investment of around Rs 200-250 crore to handle coal.