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WB export proposal not to Bhutan’s liking

Here, the quid pro quo model is preferred, where an equal exchange of energy is entailed

Unscheduled Interchange Mechanism: Bhutan is not in favour of West Bengal’s proposal to exchange electricity based on the unscheduled interchange mechanism for the coming lean season, as it would be expensive, cumbersome and unnecessary.

The mechanism was developed in India to ensure grid discipline and transparency.

If import of electricity is governed by the mechanism, Bhutan must import the initially agreed upon amount, and any deviation from that amount would result in a severe penalty.

For example, if the agreed amount is 25megawatts (MW), and if the requirement crosses 25MW, Bhutan will be penalised.

“We’ve requested West Bengal constituency to remove the mechanism, and we’ve also put up the proposal to the Indian government,” the director general of the hydropower systems department, Dasho Yeshey Wangdi, said.

Since the flow of electricity must be constant, if the mechanism is to be followed, we must install new meters that can capture and track electricity on a timely basis. “This is both expensive and cumbersome,” he said.

Bhutan’s export of electricity to India is based on the agreement that whatever surplus electricity Bhutan generates will be exported to India.

“The trading of electricity between the two nations has so far not been governed by any such mechanism,” Dasho Yeshey Wangdi said.

Also, he said, the requirement of electricity for Bhutan during the lean season was very less.

“We would require only around 27MW this winter, and it could go up to as much as 120MW by 2016,” he said.

This works out to only around 1.27 percent to 6 percent of what Bhutan exports to India.

Bhutan’s export to India works out to a rough estimate of 5,300 million units of electricity a year.

Dasho Yeshey Wangdi said that the Bhutanese party has reasoned with the Indian government that the electricity to be imported from India will mostly be utilised in the construction of the hydropower projects that will benefit both nations.

Bhutan’s proposal for the exchange of electricity is to barter electricity with West Bengal.  Under this arrangement, Bhutan will export back the same amount of energy it has imported from West Bengal.

The state suffers a shortage during the months of May and June, while it has surplus between December and April.  In case of Bhutan, the trend is otherwise.

Therefore, Dasho Yeshey Wangdi said, Bhutan would import electricity when West Bengal has surplus, during December and April, and return the same amount of energy during April and May, when the state suffers a shortage.

No financial transaction will be involved, except for wheeling charges while transporting electricity from India.

If Bhutan is not able to supply back the same amount of energy during the months of April and May, it will be done in the next months with a certain interest portion.

By Nidup Gyeltshen 

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