Coal crisis leads to power cuts across Punjab

Facing shortage of coal to run thermal plants, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited has resorted to power cuts for two to six hours in the state
Coal stocks are expected to last for less than two days at three private thermal plants in Punjab. The situation is grave at PSPCL plants too. (HT Photo)
Coal stocks are expected to last for less than two days at three private thermal plants in Punjab. The situation is grave at PSPCL plants too. (HT Photo)
Published on Oct 09, 2021 09:12 PM IST
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ByVishal Rambani, Patiala

Amid shortage of coal to run thermal plants, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has resorted to up to six-hour cuts on electricity supply across the state.

The move comes despite the corporation purchasing power for 6-14 per unit from the grid. In fact, it is for the first time that Punjab, which usually sells power on the grid in October, is forced to buy it.

On Saturday morning, Patiala, Amritsar, Ferozepur, Barnala, Sangrur and Bathinda witnessed power cuts for two to four hours. Cuts lasted for even six hours in some parts of the state. More power cuts are in the offing in the evening too.

Coal to all these plants is supplied by various Coal India Limited subsidiaries.
Coal to all these plants is supplied by various Coal India Limited subsidiaries.

Punjab is facing an acute coal crisis with stocks available to run its five thermal plants fast depleting. At the three private plants, the available stocks are not expected to last even two days. The Rajpura plant has 1.9 days of coal stock left, while Talwandi Sabo has 1.3 days of coal, and GVK plant at Goindwal Sahib has just 0.6-day stock. PSPCL plants in Lehra Mohabbat and Ropar have coal stock for 4.9 and 4 days, respectively.

Coal to all these plants is supplied by various Coal India Limited (CIL) subsidiaries under their respective fuel supply agreements. According to the government, presently the receipt is much below the required level.

Only 50% power generation

“Against an installed capacity of 5,620 MW of thermal power generation, only 2,800 MW is being generated, as two units of Ropar plant are shut while one unit each of Talwandi Sabo and Lehra Mohabbat is shut. The others are operating at half of their installed capacity to conserve coal,” said a PSPCL official, who did not wish to be named.

Punjab is facing a shortage of 1,000-1,200 MW of power daily. The demand is set to soar as the festival season has just started. On Friday, PSPCL had to purchase 131 lakh units from the grid at a whopping rate of 13.52 per unit. It has already finalised purchase of 1,200 MW for the month of October for prices ranging between 7 and 14.

CM demands supply as per quota

Reviewing the situation on Saturday, chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi said power cuts on domestic consumers in cities and villages are being imposed to ensure sufficient supply to the agriculture sector as well as to maintain grid discipline.

Slamming the Centre for inadequate coal supply against the PSPCL’s agreements with various CIL subsidiaries, the CM asked it to immediately enhance the state’s coal supply as per the quota to tide over the power crisis.

He also reiterated his government’s commitment to provide adequate power supply for irrigation of paddy crop.

Earlier, A Venu Prasad, chairman-cum-managing director, PSPCL, told the CM that thermal plants throughout the country are reeling under coal shortage. Prasad said he is in touch with the coal ministry officials to bring more stocks, and the situation is likely to improve in the coming days.

(With inputs from Chandigarh)

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021