‘Punjab no more power surplus, needs to diversify from paddy’

FACE TO FACE: Punjab State Power Corporation Limited CMD A Venu Prasad says the delay in the arrival of monsoon and the failure of the Talwandi Sabo Power Limited to deliver in the peak season have forced the PSPCL to impose restrictions
Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) chairman-cum-managing director A Venu Prasad says the solution to the current crisis is that Punjab diversifies from growing a water-guzzler crop like paddy. (HT file photo)
Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) chairman-cum-managing director A Venu Prasad says the solution to the current crisis is that Punjab diversifies from growing a water-guzzler crop like paddy. (HT file photo)
Published on Jul 01, 2021 05:41 PM IST
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Patiala: Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) A Venu Prasad on Thursday denied that Punjab is a power surplus state, particularly during the peak paddy sowing season. He said the corporation had no choice but to pull the plug on industries for two days a week besides imposing shutdowns for domestic consumers, both urban and rural. Though the measures have not gone down well with farmers and consumers, the CMD said the state should look to diversify beyond water-guzzler crops such as paddy. Edited excerpts:

Why is a power-surplus Punjab seeing cuts?

The delay in the arrival of monsoon and the failure of the Talwandi Sabo Power Limited to produce electricity have forced us to impose restrictions. Punjab is no more power surplus, particularly during the peak season that lasts 15 days. We are short of power for paddy sowing. The demand has risen beyond expectation. Power supply from hydel stations has decreased due to low reservoir levels.

How did Punjab suddenly become power deficit? Where is the problem?

Punjab has a transmission system to meet the demand of around 14,000 MW, but at present the demand has gone beyond it. Power is available in the grid, but we can’t bring more than 7,500 MW from outside of state. Today, the unrestricted demand is above 15,000 MW. It’s because of the rising power load from the agriculture sector, which draws free power. As the water level has gone down, the farmers have installed higher BHP motors to draw water. This has led to significant increase of peak power demand.

What is the solution?

The solution is diversification. Day by day, the groundwater level is going down. We need more power to pull out the water. The Kandi and Malwa areas are worst affected. The permanent solution is that Punjab has to diversify from paddy. Otherwise, if we install motors of more capacity, it will lead to another aspect of paying fixed cost for around the year for drawing power for a limited period of a fortnight.

Engineers blame the over-dependence on the private sector for the erratic supply.

That’s wrong. The PSPCL shut the 800-MW Bathinda thermal plant and two units of Ropar thermal plant, while it added 800 MW power through solar net metering. Another 250 MW solar plant inside Punjab territory has been planned and a tender will be floated soon. We are planning to install a peaking station.

Fixed cost is a problem, but Talwandi Sabo Power Limited has failed to deliver in the peak season. Any action against independent power producers (IPPs) ?

We are going to serve a notice to the TSPL. Regarding penalty, there is no provision for penalising for supplying during the peak season. Still, I have decided to sort out this issue to ensure that in future PSPCL gets full power from power plants during peak season.

When will the consumers get respite from power cuts?

We are anticipating that the monsoon will arrive around July 3. With the onset of the rainy season, the demand for power will see a dip. The monsoon arrives, I’m hoping that by next week, we will be comfortable to meet the peak demand without any restrictions.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    A principal correspondent, Vishal Rambani is the bureau chief at Patiala. He covers politics, crime, power sector, environment and socio-economic issues, with several investigative stories to his credit.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022