Frequent power outages leave residents in the capital frustrated

Power load for Thimphu was 65 MW last year and 60 MW as of November 2020

The residents in around Zilukha and Babena are dealing with frequent and prolonged power outages and its consequent disruption in the area. Most of the resident shared that they are are frustrated with the erratic power supply of the electricity

Sonam Dorji, a resident of Babena said that they have been living with frequent power outages in his area.

“Electricity is not reliable here, the power outage has been happening for past few weeks now. Sometimes it goes off in the morning and sometimes in the evening for an hour or more,” he said.

Another resident in Zilukha, Peljor, said that the light goes off in the evening and it comes in the morning.

“Its okay if it goes for an hour but sometime it comes only in the morning and we have been experiencing this for a while,” he said.

According to the Chief Manager of Electricity Service Division under Bhutan Power Corporation, they are aware of the power outage issues happening in Thimphu and especially around Zilukha and Babena.

“For the past two months it didn’t happen. We didn’t have frequent shutdown and we know that Babena and Zilukha is a disturbed area since there is low voltage. We would like to apologize for all the problems. And we do have contingency plans. We are constantly on the run and we also have a call center where people can call if they have a problem. And in Thimphu over the years there has been lot of changes taking places, and so we are also studying how to tackle this issue in collaboration with Thromde and other stakeholders,” he said.

He said that they also have a distribution system master plan in the capital and it is a five year investment plan. He said that other parts of Thimphu also face such issues and every winter there is an increase in power loads and people from BPC are there to tackle such issues.

“We target the area from where the problems are. We also do have a yearly plan, so in order to carry out the plan next year we do a study this year. Last year that area was really problematic and in order to address it, we even upgraded a transformer which is of 2.5MVA and we had to arrange it from Sarpang Dzongkhag. So we installed it in the beginning of October and during that time we had to shut down the power to carry out the work. So may be some interruption was because of that and in the evening again we had to check the loading, so there were frequent interruptions. And also to address that we have installed lots of Ring Main Units (RMUs), so those are for helping us with the distribution automation for ease of putting on and off,” he said.

He added that, “Earlier when we did not have the RMUs, people had to go to the field, climb on the poles and do everything manually. So we have spent around Nu 3 million especially on RMUs this year.  Out of 20 we have installed 16 RMUs and we have upgraded 10 transformers in view of the growing loads. We know where the problem areas are for winter and we have installed transformers in Zimdra, Double turning, Hindu Temple, Chamgang Zam, Namseling, Dechencholing Palace, Babesa, Lanjophakha and Babena and we are still carrying out the work. We also have far flung villages where the dzongkhag takes care of it. And this year we are upgrading another six.”

He said that all the works are in place but due to the pandemic the spares took time to come and are still on its way. “We have to follow all the protocols as per the government initiatives and that way we haven’t been really equipped but we do have this plan,” he added.

He said that people should be concerned about energy consumption. “They put on all the lights, so if they use what is required then maybe they can also help us because if we conserve here we can export more,” he said, adding that last year the whole load for Thimphu was 65 MW and this year it was 60 MW as of November.

He said that compared to last year it is far better this year because last year the lights went off now and then.

“And looking at the trend we carry out the work. We have installed distribution master in four villages in Babena itself. We have also installed package sub-station. We never know because we can have technical issues or transition faults and we always check and as we can’t work online so we have to take shutdowns,” he said.

He added that they have asked the people living around Babena and they have said that sometimes it trips in the morning so the people who tend to get up and who slept without light in the evening is not aware of the lights coming back since they have fallen asleep. And when they get up in the morning again the tripping happens so may be those people are feeling like it wasn’t there throughout the night.

“We need to have sub-station or transformer in the center so that the loads can be given equally to all but some transformer are out of load center and land is an issue, and this is also being tackled. We have submitted our plans to the Thromde and the dzongkhag and so we have asked for lands where ever we can put in more transformers. We have lots of issues as people want electricity around them but they don’t want the structures near their houses,” he added.  

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