The feeder separation plan proposed by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the budget has already been implemented or under implementation in eight states—Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Jaitley has set aside R500 crore for the feeder separation programme.
Officials with the Maharashtra discom—Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL), better known as MahaVitaran—said feeder separation has improved electricity supply in the state. The state had taken up this programme way back in 2007, and almost the entire agriculture-dominated areas of the state are now covered under the scheme, barring some villages in two districts.
About 25% of the total demand for power in the state is for agriculture.
“There are 41,095 villages in Maharashtra. Of these, 33,401 villages are agriculture-dominated. Before feeder separation, we used to schedule around nine hours of power supply to villages, but due to the nature of infrastructure, domestic households used to suffer when power to the farms was switched off,” said an official of the state-owned discom.
To manage rural demand during peak hours, MSEDCL launched the “Gaothan Feeder Separation Scheme” and a single-phasing scheme . The idea was to shift the focus to “load management” from “load-shedding.”
In feeder separation, a separate parallel line to the specific consumers is laid out. This requires higher capital expenditure and “right of way” permissions to lay the line over privately-owned landholdings.
Single phasing is done through changeover switches at substation. The scheme envisages supplying single phase rural lighting load through three single phase transformers. During the normal operation, the agricultural load continues to be supplied from the three-phase transformers. On operation of the changeover switch, there will be no supply to the three-phase load on the 11kV distribution network, whereas single phase supply is available to the lighting and fan load.
MSEDCL initiated the single-phase system in 2005 and the feeder separation in 2007. It took two years to complete the former in 5,482 villages and five years for the latter in 17,919 villages.
“There are 200–300 villages left in Shrirampur in the Ahmednagar districts. We are currently setting up feeder separation there. It should get done in two-three months,” the MSEDCL official said.
The company spent R3,782 crore to make the necessary changes to the power infrastructure—of which R929 crore was spent on single-phasing and R2,853 crore on feeder separation. The state government contributed R500 crore for single-phasing and picked up 20% expenses