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Unplugged, yet stingy

Private power distribution companies (discoms) selling power in the open market is not something new. Power Ministry officials say that despite Delhi being a power deficit city, the three power utilities in the Capital have a history of selling power and being stingy when it comes to purchasing electricity, reports Moushumi Das Gupta.

delhi Updated: Jul 06, 2009 00:26 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta

Private power distribution companies (discoms) selling power in the open market is not something new.

Power Ministry officials say that despite Delhi being a power deficit city, the three power utilities in the Capital have a history of selling power and being stingy when it comes to purchasing electricity.

Monthly report of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (CERC) short-term transactions of electricity (compiled by its Market Monitoring Cell), for the first three months of 2009, Delhi ranked among the top five sellers of power in the country — be it through bilateral agreements or in the open market.

Other top sellers include states like Gujarat and Chattisgarh, both of which are power surplus. But when it comes to buying power, Delhi ranks among the bottom five.

In March, for instance, while Delhi sold the third highest volume of electricity (302 million unit) through bilateral arrangement, it did not purchase even a single unit. Similarly, during the same period, it sold the third highest volume of electricity (61.74 million unit) in the open market through power exchange but purchased 0.23 million unit.

This rampant selling of power by Delhi has peeved the Power Ministry officials.

“If they are not shying away from selling so much power, why this reluctance to buy power when they are fully aware that Delhi suffers huge shortages during the summer months every year,” said a power ministry official who did not want to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The official added, “In the past two weeks, states like Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, which are suffering from power shortage, bidded aggressively and purchased 1400 MW from open market. Why could not Delhi do the same? It’s only when they are pulled up that they start shopping for power.”

Between June 21 and June 29 while the three utilities sold 5.4 million unit (mu) of energy in the open market and earned approximately Rs 5.35 crore, they purchased a minuscule 0.62 m.u. energy for approx. Rs 55 lakh.

“The discoms are being very commercial by not buying expensive power when their consumers are suffering,” said AK Sah, former chairman, National Thermal Power Corporation.