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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Jul 2014

Punjab’s thermal power generation plummets

Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times  Patiala, June 02, 2014
First Published: 09:57 IST(2/6/2014) | Last Updated: 10:04 IST(2/6/2014)

Effect of coal shortage on Punjab’s thermal power plants has come out officially, as the generation for the last two months plummeted badly as compared to the same period in earlier years. Hence, while people suffer outages that are seldom scheduled and announced, the Punjab State Power Cor poration Limited (PSPCL) is relying on purchased or borrowed electricity.

The overall performance of all of PSPCL’s three thermal plants, at Lehra Mohabbat, Bathinda and Rupnagar, in April and May was almost half this time. Not only is the PSPCL resorting to costly short-term power purchase, but it is spending extra on account of excessive furnace oil, water and auxiliary power used during repeated starts and shutdowns of its thermal units.

Lehra Mohabbat, the power plant that got many laurels at the national level in the past, is the worst-hit. Lehra, which generated 6,245 lakh units (LUs) in April 2013, could generate only 3,650 LUs in the same month this year. In May 2013, it generated 5,207 LUs, but only 2,950 LUs this May.

Furnace oil used was more than double as compared to previous years. Per unit oil consumption at the Lehra plant in April and May this year was 4-7 times higher than previous years.

During May alone, more than 4 lakh litres of oil worth Rs. 2.5 crore was used at Lehra.

The Bathinda plant, which generated 1,496 LUs during May 2013, generated only 835 LUs this May. At Rupnagar, the plant could generate only 4,925 LUs during April and 5,435 LUs during May, whereas it had generated much more in 2012 and 2013.

Meanwhile, on May 31, two more units at Lehra Mohabbat were closed due to shortage of coal.

Panem Coal Mines, which supplies the fuel to Punjab’s plants, had stopped supplies on April 10 over a price hike demand, and is now supplying only two rakes against the promised supply of six.

The price hike demand is shuttling between state government offices.

Despite several attempts, PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) KD Chaudhri remained unavailable for comment.

PSPCL director (distribution) KL Sharma told HT, “We are making optimum use of our resources. I can’t comment on power generation as it’s not in my purview. However, PSPCL has purchased 650 MW more power till June 9 to provide uninterrupted supply.”

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