There is a problem of plenty in Punjab as far as power is concerned as 10 of the 14 units of three state-owned thermal plants have been shut down. The state government is giving an opportunity to private thermal plants in Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo to meet the needs.
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) may have asked Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) to take concrete steps to utilise the excess power, but the fixed charges being paid by consumers to the PSPCL due to non-utilisation of power are piling up.
Of the total 2,640 megawatt (MW) capacity of three state-owned thermal plants -- Ropar, Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda -- only 780 MW is being generated, which is just 30% of the total.
Sources in the PSPCL say such a situation has arisen for the first time that most units of the state-owned thermal plant have been shut.
Of six units of the Ropar thermal plant, of 210 MW each, only one is functional. At the Lehra Mohabbat plant, having two units of 210 MW each and two units of 250 MW each, only one unit of 210 MW and one of 250 MW are working.
At the Bathinda thermal plant, which has two units of 110 MW each and two units of 120 MW each, only one unit of 110 MW is generating power. “Due to the rain, there is negligible demand, so we have to shut the units,” said director generation MR Parihar.
Even some share of Punjab in the central sector projects is also being surrendered and the private projects at Talwandi Sabo and Rajpura are being run on partial capacity due to surplus power conditions prevailing in Punjab.
The private plants are running at 50% of their capacity. Of the two units of 700 MW each at the Rajpura plant, one is functioning. The single unit of 660 MW capacity at the Talwandi Sabo plant is running at half its capacity.
Due to huge expenditure on the PSPCL, the PSERC has already sounded a warning to the PSPCL to come up with “concrete proposals” to deal with the surplus power in its ARR for 2014-15. The regulator has gone to the extent of suggesting reduction of power rates for high-end consumers and implementation of dynamic tariff to compete with the power exchange rates and increase power consumption from the upcoming thermal stations.
Every day, power consumers in Punjab are making an extra payment of Rs 2.4 crore (Rs 875 crore in a year) to the PSPCL for what it is spending on the fixed charges.
The excess payment will be adjusted in the tariff for the financial year 2015-16 for which a process has already begun.
For the fiscal 2014-15, the tariff pronounced by the PSERC burdened the people of the state with fixed charges of Rs 1,706 crore, which amounts to Rs 4.66 crore every day.