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Tata Power's distribution arm in Delhi has a 95% strike rate in predicting power demand. The Anil Ambani Group also deftly anticipates power requirement and state-run utilities are now keen to emulate the private sector. They are monitoring temperature, wind and cloud movement to predict power demand.
The managing director of Tata Power Delhi Distribution, Praveer Sinha, says the company knows in advance exactly how much power it needs to buy and has gained enormously from forecasts of power demand based on weather data, which affects the consumption pattern for electricity.
Private weather forecasters say they supply crucial meteorological data to power firms to help them make sound decisions regarding the sale and purchase of electricity at the best possible prices, which is proving advantageous for their customers and shareholders.
The forecasts are critical as power demand fluctuates sharply with changing weather conditions. A city's power demand during harsh summers can be double than that of periods of pleasant weather.
"This has helped manage our power distribution better. It also helps in preventing technical snags due to hot temperature or heavy rains. We are prepared before-hand for any possible glitch in transformer or power-transmission line," Sinha said.
A company spokesman said Tata Power had the expertise to make accurate forecasts. "Despite dynamic weather conditions, TPDDL is able to forecast the power demand with an accuracy above 95%."
The power demand forecast also gives a fair idea to the utility about how much power it needs to buy for the upcoming season. Such forecasting began barely six years ago in India and has evolved over time. Reliance was the first to use metrological data to forecast load in their power distribution areas in Mumbai.
"Traditionally, discoms the world over, arrange for electricity by having in-house demand forecasting methods," said an official belonging to BSES. BSES uses a load forecasting system developed by SAS, an American solutions provider to help its discoms predict power load more accurately for its distribution companies (BRPL and BYPL) in Delhi
"More accurate load forecasts helps BSES plan its power purchases or sales more prudently, leading to reduction in its power-purchase costs. These savings ultimately benefit the consumers; as reduced power costs have a direct bearing on the customer tariffs," said a BSES official.
Extreme weather conditions make it challenging for power producers to judge the electricity demand. For instance, New Delhi that consumed just 3,000 MW of electricity during peak winters in December and January will seek over 5,600 MW in the next few weeks during extreme summers.
In early winter months of October and November, the peak demand shifts towards the evening hours while during extreme winter during December and January, the peak demand for power shifts towards morning hours.
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