As below normal monsoon fears looms large this year, Punjab power utility PSPCL has decided to buy 2000 MW of power to ensure sufficient energy supply to farmers for paddy sowing and meeting rising demand from domestic and commercial consumers in summer.
"We have floated a tender for short term purchase of 2000 MW of power," Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), chairman KD Chaudhri told PTI on Friday.
"Normally, the demand for power goes up significantly in summers from agriculture sector in view of paddy crop sowing and from domestic and commercial categories.
"The additional power purchase will ensure uninterrupted power supply to these energy consuming categories," he said adding that it would also take care of concerns of any below normal monsoon.
PSPCL hopes to buy short term power at a rate less than Rs 3.90 per unit.
The matter assumes significance as Indian Meteorological Department had predicted below normal monsoon this year with rainfall projected at 95 per cent of Long period average (LPA).
Any shortage of power during the critical months of June and July when paddy sowing is going on, could raise farmers' input cost considerably.
In 2012, when the country had faced "deficient" monsoon, Punjab government had sought relief package of about Rs 2,400 crore including Rs 850 crore as extra expenditure incurred by farmers on Kharif crop sowing and Rs 1,530 crore for power purchase at a higher price by state government.
During the initial months of this year, PSPCL had assessed that it may not be requiring short term power purchase because of new power generation capacities getting commissioned.
PSPCL, in normal course, buys 1,000-1,500 MW as short term power from different sources in January or February every year in order to meet power requirements during peak summer months and for paddy sowing.
The additional 700 MW of Rajpura thermal power plant (2X700) developed by Larsen and Toubro is now expected to be commissioned in June as against May. First unit of 700 MW has already been commissioned.
The first unit of 660 MW of Talwandi Sabo power plant (3X660MW) is expected to come up commercially in June as against February, officials said.
Paddy-sowing in Punjab starts from June 10 and power requirement during this time goes up considerably for drawing underground water by farmers for watering the crop. Farm sector is given a minimum of eight hours of power daily.
The demand for power during summer in Punjab goes up by 20-25 per cent to more than 9000 MW, leading to severe power shortage in the state, official sources said.
Interestingly, PSPCL has projected surplus availability of 12,807 (million units) of power in its schedule of anticipated demand and energy availability throughout 2014-15.
PSPCL has even estimated surplus availability of energy during crucial months of May (1405 MUs), June (305 MUs), July (94 MUs) and August (600 MUs) when summers are at peak and paddy sowing season is on.
Punjab has total thermal capacity generation of 2620 MW. Besides, it has hydel projects of 1000 MW, share from BBMB (Bhakra Beas Management Board)at 1110 MW, share from central projects 2507 MW, cogeneration 469 MW, taking state's total power capacity at 7706 MW.