Engineers of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have warned the state government of its increasing dependence on the private sector for generating power, saying the price of power units will only rise should the trend continue.
More than a 1,000 members of the PSEB Engineers' Association converged here on Sunday for the body's annual general meeting and spoke about how the role of the state-run power plants in generation was diminishing.
Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, was the chief guest and represented the state government.
In his presidential address, the association president Baldev Singh Sran said an increasing share of the private sector in generation meant rising fixed liability charges to be paid to them, thus leading to a hike in the cost of power.
Sran further said the state's share in the generation capacity was around 55% around a decade ago, but has now fallen to 30%. "It shall further fall below 20% in the next five years, which shall dilute state control for optimum grid operation," Sran added.
The engineers' association president said at least two new "super critical" thermal plants must be set up in a phased manner to ensure that the state reclaims its adequate share in power generation.
"Most of the states are enhancing their generation capacity with a mix of state and private investment except Punjab that has relied totally on private investment. Moreover, Punjab has been allotted a dedicated coal mine and there should be no problem regarding coal supply for state-sector plants," Sran added.
Another challenge before the state seems to be tackling the surplus power. Sran said the state may have to pay approximately Rs 2,500 crore as fixed charges to private generating plants even when their electricity is not required.
"Had this power been consumed or sold, it would have helped to reduce the cost of supply," Sran added.
The other speakers included All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) chairman Shailendra Dubey, its chief patron Padamjit Singh and PSEB Engineers' Association patron MS Bajwa.
The speakers also raised the issue of the proposed amendment to the electricity bill by the NDA government at the Centre and termed the proposal to make tariff policy mandatory as an attempt by the central government to wrest the powers of the states in managing their power sectors.
"It means that the state commissions have to determine the tariff in accordance with the policy of the central government, which is clearly a violation of the principles of federalism," the speakers said.
Dhindsa acknowledged the contribution of PSEB Engineers' Association and promised to take up all the issues raised by its members Engineers with the chief minister.
On the occasion, engineer Suresh Gupta, ex-technical member of PSEB, was awarded "life time achievement award", while Ajay Pal Singh Atwal, assistant executive engineer, was conferred the award for technical excellence.