CHANDIGARH: Severe coal shortage at thermal power plants in Punjab has forced power utility PSPCL to cut down power generation and impose rotational load shedding at several places, prompting the state government to slam the Centre for inadequate coal supply.
With power situation turning grim, power plants in the state are left with coal stock of up to five days, said an official of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited.
“Plants are running at a reduced capacity,” said the official adding that they were not being run at full capacity in order to conserve coal.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Saturday hit out at the Centre for insufficient coal supply and apprehended impending shutdown of the state’s thermal power plants due to fast depleting coal supplies in the next couple of days.
He said Punjab was not getting adequate coal supply despite agreements with various subsidiaries of Coal India Ltd and asked the central government to immediately ensure the state’s quota of coal to tide over the power crisis.
The demand for power at present is about 9,000 MW in the state.
Officials said besides the demand for power from the agriculture sector, high temperatures in the day are also adding to the power requirements in the state.
Though PSPCL officials claimed minimal load shedding, there were reports of power cuts of two to three hours at many places in the state.
Reviewing the power situation amid the shortage of coal supply in the state, the CM said all the thermal plants are unable to generate power at full capacity due to insufficient coal receipt.
However, he reiterated his government’s firm commitment to give power supply for irrigation of paddy crop where necessary at the fag end of crop yield.
In a statement, Channi, however, said power cuts on domestic consumers in cities and villages are being imposed to ensure sufficient supply to the agriculture sector as well as to maintain grid discipline.
PSPCL Chairman and Managing Director A Venu Prasad told Channi that the thermal plants throughout the country are reeling under coal shortages and coal supplies crisis.
Within the state, independent power producer (IPP) plants are left with less than two days of coal that is Nabha Power Ltd (1.9 days), Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd (1.3 days) and GVK (0.6 days).
While the state-owned Ropar thermal plant and Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant are left with coal stock of up to four and five days respectively, said the official.
According to the Central Electricity Authority guidelines, power plants located at a distance of over 1,000 km from a coal mine should always have minimum coal stock of up to 30 days but this level of stock is not maintained by the power plants in the state.
On Friday, power plants had received some coal supply to run their operations, said the official.
In the wake of less generation of power, the PSPCL is buying power through the power exchange but it is costing over Rs 10 per unit which was quite expensive, said the official.
Venuprasad said he has written to the Centre for increasing the coal supply to the state.
Officials claimed that the situation is expected to ease in the next couple of days.