A blackout of hope for ‘power surplus’ dream? | punjab | Hindustan Times
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A blackout of hope for ‘power surplus’ dream?

punjab Updated: May 21, 2013 09:48 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times

The ray of light in the dark is getting dimmer and dimmer. The commissioning of the 540-megawatt thermal-electricity plant at Goindwal Sahib, a project conceived in 1994, is delayed by another three months.

A fortnight ago, GVK Power of Chennai, which is building the plant, had announced it would light up the 270-MW first unit of the project on May 7 but now the deadline has moved to the first week of August. Reports suggest that initial testing is done but the plant is yet to be synchronised.

The delay, in the opinion of the Punjab state power corporation limited (PSPCL) officials who have visited the plant, is because the coal-handling unit will not be ready for a few more months. The PSPCL has stated that extraction from Tokisud North, coal block allotted to GVK in Ranchi, Jharkhand, will also take two to three months to begin.

Top officials in the PSPCL clarified that the corporation’s role in commissioning the project is finished. “I don’t know why GVK is sitting on the mine and has never got it operational,” said a senior official in Powercom. The Punjab government and the PSPCL see a big hope in the plant, of reducing the gap in the demand and supply of electricity. The second unit of the project is expected to be commissioned by November.

In 2,000, the erstwhile Punjab state electricity board had signed the deal with GVK but the project never took off for want of coal. In 2002, GVK tied up with Eastern India Coal but signed no fuel-supply agreement, as the landing cost was high. In 2008, the project was revived and the deal renegotiated.

After a fresh power-purchase agreement between the PSPCL and the promoter, construction began in 2010. In March last year, it was announced that the first unit would get into operation in March 2013, but it missed the deadline.

“The commissioning of our plant is delayed by three months, as coal is unavailable because we are still to develop our mine in Tokisud,” a senior official in GVK Powers accepted.
“We have 50% of our coal requirement and a request is made for more. It is not the duty of the PSPCL or the Punjab government to arrange coal but they can help us take up our case with the union coal ministry and Coal India Limited for timely and adequate supply,” said spokesman of Sterlite Energy. “If adequate supply is unavailable, our plant will be unviable,” the spokesman said.

Reality check
Goindwal Sahib

Capacity: 540 MW
(two units of 270 MW each)
Executed by: GVK Powers
Mine: Tokisud, Ranchi, Jharkhand
Commissioning deadline: July 7
(Coal available: 21.6-lakh tonnes a year; 80% of required)

Talwandi Sabo
Capacity: 1,980 MW
(three units each of 660 MW each)
Executed by: Sterlite Energy, a Vedanta group company
Mine: Mahanadi Coal Fields, Orrisa
Commissioning deadline: September 31, 2012, initially, for rolling out first unit; postponed to November 30, 2012, and then April 13, 2013; now no fresh deadline
(Coal available: 8.5-lakh tonnes a year; 85% of required)

Capacity: 1,400 MW
(two units each of 700 MW each)
Executed by: Larsen and Toubro
Mine: South Eastern Coal Fields, Bilaspur, Chattisgarh
Deadline: January 17, 2014; first unit expected to be ready in December 2013
(Coal available: 55.5-lakh tonnes a year; 80% of required)