Himachal Pradesh, which has been doing brisk business selling power to neighbours in summers,has been able to find few buyers this season as its cash-starved customers have opted for load shedding, thus crashing prices due to lower demand.
Himachal, being a surplus state during summers, has been trading in power but the rates have crashed from Rs 7.50 per unit last year to Rs 3.75 per unit this year, pulling down profit-per-unit from over Rs 3 per unit to 18 paise.
The HP State Electricity Board has not been able to find regular buyers as the cash-starved power distribution boards in various states have preferred to impose power cuts than procuring electricity.
"We are not getting regular buyers for 50 per cent surplus power and the states, procuring electricity on a regular basis in bulk, are now opting for power cuts (in the respective states) to overcome shortfall," chief secretary Sudripta Roy said.
Last year, the state sold power in bulk at Rs 4.30 per unit to Uttar Pradesh, which failed to pay about Rs 200 crore, he said.
This year, UP has ordered shutting down of malls, commercial establishments and shops at 7 pm every day for the next 15 days to conserve electricity. The order, however, has been revoked.
The regular buyers of electricity from Himachal during the peak summer have been Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. This season, Rajasthan and Karnataka have agreed to buy power.
"Electricity can't be stored and has to be consumed or else it would go waste, and since there are (few) buyers, we have been forced to sell it in the open market through the national power exchange at low margins," Roy said.
With the commissioning of more hydropower projects in the private sector, including 1,000 MW Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Project in Kinnaur district and 192 MW Allain Duhangan project in Kullu district, the 12 per cent free power as royalty of the state would go up but earning revenue from this would depend on prevailing market rates.
HPSEB officials said that 810 MW of power was available for sale from April to October, as against 630 MW last year, but the sale price was vacillating between Rs 3 and Rs 4 per unit during past two months.