Coal shortage costs 340 crore for Maharashtra power companies

The shortfall of coal for power generation has resulted in the additional burden of Rs340 crore on the cash-strapped state-run power companies in the past three weeks in Maharashtra
The state has, however, said load shedding would not be initiated in the state. Energy minister Nitin Raut, however, blamed the central government for the current coal supply crisis in the country.
The state has, however, said load shedding would not be initiated in the state. Energy minister Nitin Raut, however, blamed the central government for the current coal supply crisis in the country.
Updated on Oct 12, 2021 11:19 PM IST
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BySurendra P Gangan, Mumbai

The shortfall of coal for power generation has resulted in the additional burden of Rs340 crore on the cash-strapped state-run power companies in the past few weeks. The state- run companies have been purchasing power at a high rate to meet the gap of 4,000MW daily. The state has, however, said load shedding would not be initiated in the state. Energy minister Nitin Raut, however, blamed the central government for the current coal supply crisis in the country.

The coal shortage in the state resulted in a drop in power generation by more than 3,300MW in the past few days, widening the gap between supply and demand to 4,000MW. This has forced the state government to buy the power from the open market at a high rate which goes up to Rs20 a unit during the peak hours. The state government spent Rs197 crore in September for the purchase, while it has borne the cost of Rs140 crore in 11 days of October after the peak hour rate increased significantly due to shortfall in power across the country.

Against the daily requirement of 18,000MW, the production was hit by around 4,000MW as seven units of thermal power at state-run stations (three of them are shut for maintenance) and six units at private stations providing power to Maharashtra. The shortfall has been made up by purchasing power – ranging from 1,200 to 3,600MW daily since September 12 from open market. This has cost dear to the power discomm as the average purchase rate increased to Rs10.70 in October from Rs4.21 a unit in September. The rise in power rate increased tremendously in the past two weeks due to the shortage of coal.

“We have coal stock of 217,000MT and we have been getting 70,000MT coal daily against our requirement of 135,000. Besides that, although Mahavitaran has a power purchase agreement with Coastal Gujarat Power Limited and JSW for 760 and 240MW respectively, the two companies have not been providing us power for the past few months. Both the companies have stopped generation because of the spike in the imported coal they use for the generation. Despite this, we have been coping with the shortfall by purchasing the power from open market. There is no load shedding initiated anywhere and no load shedding is our mantra,” said Maharashtra power minister Nitin Raut.

Besides the power purchase, the state companies have also increased the hydro power generation to 2,000MW and reduction in the supply by 2 hours to the agricultural pumps.

The opposition has, however, attacked the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for its “inefficient” management of coal stock, lifting of stock. Former energy minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Chandrashekhar Bawankule said that the mismanagement by the state government has thrown the power companies in debt and they do not even have the funds to pay off the bills for coal supply and labour payments. “The outstanding dues towards the payment of coal purchased from the central companies has increased to Rs2,800 crore. The state generation company has not been able to pay the dues. Either the state government should fund these companies or the companies should raise debts from the open market. This has happened because of mismanagement by the state government and lack of coordination between the power companies,” Bawankule said.

Responding to it, Raut said, “Bawankule is misguiding by quoting wrong figures. The outstanding is Rs1,500 crore, of which Rs430 crore will be paid in next few days. The amount of dues during BJP-led government had mounted to Rs1,565 crore. The power shortage is because of the short supply of coal by the BJP-led central government. The shortage has arisen because of the mismanagement of Coal India and it has been endorsed by ministry of coal and mining in its letter to the company on September 27,” he said.

Raut has slammed coal India for short supply and the sub standard of the coal supplied to the state.

“The shortage is the result of the clumsy and unplanned management by Coal India. The company was expected to ensure adequate stock of the coal ahead of monsoon, but the reduction in the mining could not enable it. Besides it, the rise in the rate of the import of the coal from outside the country has affected the power generation by the private companies,” he said.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021