First time Powercom is forced to shut seven out of its 13 operational units in the state because of the shortage of demand over the past more than 15 days.
Two units each at Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Power Plant (GNDTPP), Bathinda, and Guru Hargobind Thermal Power Plant (GHTPP), Lehra Mohabbat, and three at Guru Gobind Singh Thermal Power Plant (GGSTPP), Rupnagar, are out of work. The Bathinda units were shut on February 4, a unit at Rupnagar the next day, and the two units at the same plant on February 15 and 16. Two units at Lehra Mohabbat are at sleep since February 7.
Punjab state power corporation limited (PSPCL) runs 14 electricity units in Punjab, of which unit 4 of the Bathinda plant is under renovation and modernisation. Only 6 of the remain 13 units now generate energy. It is the longest rest period for the power units in Punjab, which has added crores of rupees to the PSPCL's losses. "This time, the hibernation has gone a little longer," said Arun Verma, PSPCL's director of distribution. "Often, we have less demand for electricity in this period, and unexpected rain lowers it further."
The PSPCL might blame the weather but sources in the corporation said less demand from industry was the culprit. "Rain alone cannot be blamed for such a long halt," said an official in the PSPCL, requestiong anonymity to protect himself from any trouble. "It shows that industry is not doing well in Punjab and is in an exodus to escape punitive taxes. Its flight has dipped the demand," the official added.
However, Arun Verma denied that the demand from industry had declined. "The dip in demand is from the agriculture sector." Asked why then Punjab was unable to sell the surplus electricity to other states, Verma said the demand was expected to rise very quickly in summer.
Asked if the plant coming up at Banawali near Talwandi Sabo would not worsen the problem of mass shutdown of units, Verma said in that situation, Punjab would sign agreements to sell the energy to other states.