The damage by Cyclone Phailin to the power infrastructure in the landfall area was much less than expected. The impact on the regional grid too was reported to be minimal, although the fallout on telecommunication connectivity in the area, especially on the BSNL network, was reported to be much worse.
Late Saturday night, after the winds picked up, the Talcher-Kolar transmission line — a crucial HVDC (high voltage direct current) link between the country’s eastern and southern grids that passes along the eastern coastline — tripped on account of a fault. The anticipatory move by the country’s grid managers, though, of sharply curtailing power flows through the Talcher-Kolar link from its rated capacity of 2,500 MW to only around 500 MW hours before the cyclone hit landfall, helped prevent a disruptive load crash.
Late on Sunday evening, the major problem that remained pertained to a key rail link between Howrah and Visakhapatnam, which could not be restored due to an outage at a transmission tower near Ganjam, resulting in rail traffic being hit.
In the area under the Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Ltd (OPTCL), a total of 20 transmission towers of 220 KV and 28 towers of 132 KV were reported to have collapsed, according to a stocktaking assessment completed by Sunday evening. The Meramundli- Angul-Bolangir-Jeypore 400kV link was also down.
The restoration was underway since early Sunday morning. “With the emergency restoration system underway, the situation is expected to improve by Monday morning,” said an official involved in the exercise.
The collapse of communication, especially BSNL, was cited as a key hindrance in the areas affected by the cyclone. The key Meramundli-Angul-Bolangir-Jeypore 400 KV line was restored late afternoon on Sunday.
Orissa’s total demand had improved from around 780 MW in the afternoon to 1,250 MW by late Sunday evening, as against normal load of about 3,000 MW.