As mercury soars, power cuts imposed in Punjab

  • Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: May 09, 2015 10:50 IST

The tall claims by the state government of Punjab being power surplus fell flat on Thursday morning, as on the very first day when the temperature soared above 40 degrees Celsius, the power corporation imposed cuts, ranging from three to five hours.

In fact, private thermal plants, which the government projected as its major achievement, have led to the fiasco and the power corporation was forced to impose cuts. While the Rajpura thermal plant (1,400 MW) went out of operation on Thursday evening, the only working unit of the Talwandi Sabo plant (600 MW) is off since April 18 because of a boiler tube leakage.

The power corporation imposed restrictions of 192 lakh units on Thursday in the state, especially in urban and rural areas of Patiala, Sangrur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana and SAS Nagar. Against a demand of 1,450 lakh units, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) managed to supply only 1,258 lakh units.

Because of the soaring mercury, the PSPCL load has increased by around 200 lakh units in the past three days.

Anticipating coal crisis, the power corporation was largely banking on the Rajpura thermal plant by curtailing the operation of its own thermal plants to conserve coal for the peak summer. However, as the Larsen and Toubro-owned plant went out of operation because of a technical snag, the PSPCL failed to meet the demand of domestic consumers as most of its own thermal plant units are closed.

"It takes four hours to start a thermal unit. As the PSPCL was largely depending on the private plants by shutting its own plants, the sudden breakdown of the Rajpura thermal plant led to the crisis and the PSPCL was forced to impose power cuts," admitted an official.

Sources said the dilly-dallying approach of the PSPCL towards private players is behind the early crisis.

"Usually, it takes 48 to 60 hours to plug in the boiler tube leakage. However, it has been almost three weeks since the Talwandi Sabo unit went out of operation. The PSPCL has no authority to ask them to correct it. What is the use of such plants when they fail to meet the requirement during the peak season," said an official.

Anticipating that the Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo plants will take time to become operational, the beleaguered PSPCL on Friday started its three more units of 210 MW power each of the Ropar thermal plant and the second unit of 250 MW capacity of the Lehra Mohabbat plant to meet the demand.

KL Sharma, director (distribution), said, "Though the demand was well within the generation capacity of the PSPCL, the sudden closure of the Rajpura plant led to the crisis as it lowered the generation by 700 MW, thus the PSPCL imposed cuts."

He said the sudden rise in demand was also one of the reasons, adding that as the government plants had been made operational, the power distribution would be regular by Friday night.

Demand 1,450 LUs
Availability 1,258 LUs
Shortage 192 LUs

Govt plants (Figures in MW for generation on Thursday)
Name of plant Installed capacity Generation
Bathinda 440 120
Ropar 1,260 630
Lehra Mohabbat 920 503

Private plants
Name of plant Installed capacity Generation
Rajpura 1,400 0
Talwandi Sabo 600 0
GVK 270 0

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