Pseb resorts to power cuts


Staff member

Chandigarh July 10:
Starved of funds to purchase adequate power to meet the demand in the state, the PSEB authorities have started imposing heavy power cuts, varying from 6 to 8 hours daily.
Sources said the demand for power yesterday was in the range of 1,750 lakh units against the availability of power of 1,501 lakh units. Consequently, the PSEB resorted to power cuts in various areas. The cuts have to be imposed despite the good rainfall that has helped the PSEB in a big way to keep the consumption of power in the farm sector on the lower side.
The sources said the PSEB immediately needs nearly Rs 1,000 crore to purchase power from the open market to cope with the demand in the state. “It is true that we are starved of funds to purchase power to meet the demand in the state and, hence, we are subjecting various areas to power cuts,” said a senior functionary of the PSEB.
The PSEB had to buy power at a very high rate of Rs 7.33 per unit in the past. In certain cases, it procured power at Rs 9.47 per unit. The average cost of power it procured from the open market was Rs 6.41 per unit and that was supplied to consumers at an average rate of about Rs 3.60 per unit. In a way, the PSEB has been providing subsidy to all sorts of consumers of Rs 2.81 per unit.
As the state witnessed a series of elections during the past three months, on the directions from the state’s ruling political combine, the PSEB stretched itself fully to ensure regular supply of power to urban and rural areas to fend off any adverse political impact on the state government. As elections are over now, the PSEB is back with power cuts.
The sources said the PSEB, which is virtually the engine of growth of the state’s economy, was on the verge of financial collapse. While the state government is making it dance to its tune, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission has become very strict with it as far as its spending on the purchase of power and other matters are concerned.
The commission has not agreed to its many projections even with regard to the consumption of power it projected in its annual revenue requirement petition. For the last fiscal year, the commission had approved the purchase of power worth Rs 2,813 crore. However, the PSEB had to purchase power worth Rs 4,327 crore. The purchase bill over shot by Rs 1,500 crore.
The purchase of power has become a very dicey business. Even in case of sudden decrease in power owing to rainfall or some other reason, the commitment made to purchase power has to be either honoured or one has to pay some amount to cancel the purchase order.
Meanwhile, to pay subsidy amount to the PSEB, the case has been moved to the finance department to release Rs 167 crore for the current month. Already subsidy worth Rs 500 crore has been paid to the PSEB in lieu of supplying free power to the farm sector and poor sections of society.