With the coal crisis worsening in the state, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has shut down 11 of the 14 units of its three thermal power plants.
These three plants, located at Rupnagar, Bathinda and Lehra Mohabbat (Bathinda), have been performing below the optimum level since May.
Against the plants’ installed power generation capacity of 2,620 MW (megawatts), the PSPCL was able to run units at just 450 MW on Thursday. On Wednesday, the PSPCL had produced only 800 MW out of its installed capacity. However, the coal crisis has further forced the power corporation to curtail its operations.
Five of the six units of the Guru Gobind Singh thermal plant (1,260 MW), Rupnagar, are shut, while three of the four units of the Lehra Mohabbat plant (920 MW) are boxed up, while only one of the four units of the Bathinda thermal plant (440) is operating.
Owing to the coal shortage, the PSPCL is banking largely on the private sector thermal plants, which are supplying nearly 1,500 MW from within the state, apart from borrowing electricity from Madhya Pradesh.
As per reports, the Rupnagar plant, which is the biggest in north India, the coal stock is limited to one day if it has to run on full capacity. Thus, the management has shut five units of 210 MW each and is operating only one.
“Apart from taking power from banking and other resources, we were forced to do load-shedding of nearly 1.03 million units on Wednesday. And the same was the situation on Thursday,” said a PSPCL employee.
However, PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director KD Chaudhry differs on shutting government power plants. He claims that the plants are shut because of low power demand.
“Though there is a coal crisis, the plants are shut because of the low demand, which is hovering between 5,500 and 6,500 MW. The PSPCL is having central government allocation of 3,500 MW, while we are getting 1,500 MW from Punjab-based thermal plants. And the rest of the demand is met by running state thermal plants,” he said.
On power cuts, he said most of these were because of ongoing repair works, adding that the PSPCL was replacing wires to augment the power distribution system.
On coal availability, the CMD said nearly 15 rakes were on their way to Punjab, and that would improve the situation to some extent. However, things will come under control when the central government will enhance coal supplies, for which Punjab has already sent an SOS.