Rail blockade: Coal stocks drying up, power crisis deepens in Punjab
With the state corporation suffering a double whammy, power crisis in Punjab is set to deepen.
Suspension of freight trains due to the farm agitation has hit coal supplies to power plants across the state. The power generation has nosedived at a time the demand has gone up due to the festive season (see box).
Punjab State Power Corporation Limited, which otherwise sells power at this time of the year, is forced to buy it from the national grid, that too at 20% hiked prices.
At present, only two government coal-based power plants are operating, that too at just 20% of installed capacity. Left with just two days of coal stock, they are generating around 350MW daily against the installed capacity of 1760MW. The private thermal plants are left with no coal stock and have been out of operation for a week.
“There is a need for early restoration of coal supplies, as festival season is approaching, when demand is set to increase to around 5,500 MW daily. We have to purchase from the national grid on a short-term basis, which has become a costly affair, as prices have gone up 20% in a week,” said a senior PSPCL official.
Due to the high demand in festival season, power prices in the national grid have gone up from ₹2.7 per unit to around ₹3.3 per unit.
“We are suffering a double whammy, as this is usually the time we either sell power or bank it with other states. However, we are forced to purchase it due to the coal crisis,” PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director A Venu Parsad said. For the festival season, the corporation has tied up to buy 835 MW of power till November 30.
“This will cost us from ₹3-3.5 per unit, depending upon the time of withdrawal from the national grid,” said Parsad, adding that PSPCL has already urged the government to resolve the issue of coal supplies at the earliest.