Faced with "mounting" criticism over load shedding, Punjab power utility PSPCL has blamed inadequate coal supplies to private thermal power plants as reason for lesser power generation to meet increasing power requirements in the wake of "poor" monsoon.
In an advertisement placed in several newspapers here, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has said the demand for power in Punjab has crossed 2,350 lakh units per day during paddy season as against 2,000 LU in last season.
"Due to unprecedented high temperature and complete failure of monsoon, the power demand has abruptly increased in Punjab," PSPCL stated.
It pointed out that though PSPCL was running its own thermal and hydel power plants to full capacity, the generation of power at private power plants was affected because of lack of coal supply.
"NPL (Nabha Power Limited) Rajpura thermal plant is delivering only 500 MW out of 1,400 MW capacity as Coal India Limited is unable to supply the committed coal. TSPL Talwandi Sabo thermal plant is unable to start any generation out of 660 MW capacity due to non-supply of coal by Coal India," PSPCL said.
PSPCL said the new thermal capacity of 1,560 MW of power could not be generated because of coal shortage.
"Rajpura thermal plant has coal stock for just one day while there is no clarity with regard to coal supply to Talwandi Sabo power plant yet," PSPCL Director (Distribution) KL Sharma told PTI today, hoping that the situation would ease in few days.
Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo thermal plants have annual coal requirement of 6.3 million tonne per annum and 9 MTPA respectively. Rajpura power plant was built by L&T while Talwandi Sabo's project was developed by Vedanta Group.
With paddy sowing season in progress, Punjab has been facing load shedding across all categories of customers ranging between 5-8 hours per day. Besides, PSPCL has imposed peak load hours restrictions for 12 hours on large scale industry.
During a recent meeting, Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had raised the coal supply issue with railway minister Sadananda Gowda.
He had demanded uninterrupted supply of coal for power plants to ensure smooth transplantation of paddy.
Badal, who holds the power portfolio, had said that irregular coal supply could not only hit the paddy season but also lead to a crisis.
Punjab Congress president Pratap Singh Bajwa yesterday took a dig at SAD-BJP led regime, saying the "tall claims" of state government about adequate availability of power stood exposed with the state experiencing acute power shortage.
Interestingly, PSPCL had earlier projected surplus availability of 12,807 (million units) of power throughout 2014-15 in its schedule of anticipated demand and energy availability.
PSPCL had even estimated surplus availability of energy during crucial months of May (1405 MUs), June (305 MUs), July (94 MUs) and August (600 MUs), when paddy sowing season is on.