State with surplus power, but no relief on tariff front
Punjab is officially generating excess power but is unable to reduce the tariff for its consumers.
The irony is that it is bound by agreements to buy power from private thermal plants while its own plants are lying idle or operating at just a fraction of its capacity.
Punjab plans to sell roughly 500 MW of power before June 10 worth Rs 13 crore per month and the same amount again after October.
However, with no buyers in sight the consumers in the state will continue to pay more for power, despite the state being power surplus.
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, who also holds the power portfolio, has claimed on many occasions that the power tariff would be reduced but with PSPCL failing to find buyers to sell around 500 MW in the next three months, the task looks uphill.
Sources confirmed that that despite best efforts by PSPCL officials, the state has failed to find buyers in the national market despite floating tenders for the same. “We had hopes from some power deficit states but even they have shown no interest,” the sources added.
The situation has come to such a pass because political bosses entered into contracts with private thermal plants to who PSPCL has to pay fixed charges. Therefore, to save on coal stock and costs, the corporation continues to buy power from these private thermal plants by keeping their own units shut.
Presently, Punjab is getting roughly 1,320 MW from Rajpura plant, 1,228 MW from Talwandi Sabo while another 540 MW capacity private plant in Goindwal Sahib will be on steam shortly.
The state own generation capacity is 1,260 MW from Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant in Ropar, 460 MW from Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda, 920 MW from Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, while 1,249 MW is produced from various projects including Ranjit Sagar and Shanan Power Plant, Joginder Nagar (HP). While hydro power continues, PSPCL is keeping almost seven to 10 units shuts regularly in the state thermal plants out of 14.
“Our industry shifted out and with no new industry coming, the state is in a fix. Government should have gone for private thermal plants in a phased manner by setting up one private and one state owned plant. However, officers who opposed were shunted out or were shifted. The truth is that the state shells out crores to private plants, despite surplus of power,” said a top officer.
The states power bill from private plants has doubled in the past three years from as low as Rs 7,200 crore in 2012-13 to an estimated Rs 14,000 crore in 2015-16.
During 2014-15, of the total requirement of 48,200 MU of power, 29,000 MU were purchased whereas only 19,200 MU were generated from own thermal plants, hydel projects and BBMB. Reliable sources say during 2015-16, of the 50,000 MU required, 31,700 MU will be purchased and merely 18,300 MUs will be generated from its own units.
PSPCL MD KD Chaudhri said they have tried their best to sell 500 MW power but have failed to attract buyers as some southern states are selling power at Rs 3 per unit as against our offer of Rs 3.90 per unit.