Bragging about being “power surplus” has run Punjab scarce of 372 crore electricity units it wanted to purchase for summer.
Looking at the petition for these units that Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) had filed in March, Punjab State Power Regulatory Commission (PSERC) on Monday questioned it about three private-sector plants, Centre’s coal commitment, and other availability issues. The PSPCL wants to buy electricity on short-term basis for May 1 to September 30 through competitive bidding and open-tender process.
Even after claiming power-surplus status last financial year, it had purchased electricity to meet the rising demand in summer. This year again it went to the PSERC, which didn’t take the corporation’s data on its face value; and confronted the PSPCL with its owns annual revenue requirement (ARR) petition in which the corporation had listed more foreign coal agreements and hydroelectricity, besides the commissioning of private plants, among its achievements.
Then the corporation was shown the paragraph in which it had claimed to be power deficient during peak-load hours in summer.
“You have claimed that all three units of the Talwandi Sabo plant will be operational in the year 2016-17, which will require no short-term buying. You showed surpulus even in the petition for regulatory measures. Then you had a sudden change in situation within a month, which we don’t understand,” the regulator told the PSPCL.
The PSERC asked the PSPCL why it was not running its plants on full capacity. As the corporation cited the shortage or banking of coal for summer, the regulator hit back by seeking stock-and-commitment figures from Coal India Limited, besides the plan for purchasing of coal from abroad, which the regulator has permitted already.
The corporation had to explain why against the publicised installed capacity of 496 megawatts, it had shown only 250 MW from renewable-energy sources in the petition. A stunned PSPCL reworked its petition, cut down its projected deficiency by two-third, and said it now needed only 114 crore units during peak load hours from June to September.
As the regulator came up with further queries based on the PSPCL data, the corporation came to agree that it needed no extra power in summer indeed. The regulator dismissed the petition with the observation that : “In light of the PSPCL submission that revised availability leaves no gap between demand and supply, its prayer does not survive.”
However, in case of exigency, the PSPCL may go for short-term buying in a judicious and economical manner and resort to demand-side management practices to maintain commercial viability.