States flag depleting coal inventories at power plants

The Union power ministry on Sunday said “any fear of disruption in power supply is entirely misplaced”. It said the coal stock at power plants was sufficient for more than four days’ requirement and as the coal supply is being ramped, the coal stock at power plants will gradually improve
Coal transportation under progress at the coal mines of Central Coal Limited (CIL) at Bharkunda area in Ramgarh district on Monday. Few Indian states have raised concerns over depleted coal inventories in power plants. (PTI)
Coal transportation under progress at the coal mines of Central Coal Limited (CIL) at Bharkunda area in Ramgarh district on Monday. Few Indian states have raised concerns over depleted coal inventories in power plants. (PTI)
Updated on Oct 12, 2021 05:00 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Some states have raised concerns over depleted coal inventories in power plants, even as the central government has said that fears of a looming power crisis are unfounded.

Fuel stocks at plants that supply electricity to the national capital will last two-three days, Delhi power minister Satyendar Jain said. “Delhi used to get about 4,000 MW from NTPC, but we are still getting only about half of it. I hope the matter is resolved by the Centre at the earliest,” he said.

The Delhi government has authorised private distribution companies to buy electricity from the open market, which can cost up to 20 per kWh, much higher than prices in long-term purchase agreements. Power outages of as many as four hours have been reported in areas such as Sarita Vihar, Burari and Gautampuri.

Six thermal power stations supplying electricity to Maharashtra have shut down 13 units because they do not have sufficient coal. “To meet the demand of more than 18,000 MW a day during peak hours, we have been purchasing power from the open market and through real time transactions at higher rates, which go as high as 18 a unit. To cope with the shortage of generation, we have been operating our hydro generation at Koyana at its fullest capacity and have also reduced supply by two hours to agricultural pumps during nights,” said an official from Mahavitaran, the power distribution arm of the state government. He declined to be named.

Maharashtra energy minister Nitin Raut will meet officers of all power utilities on Tuesday to take stock of the situation. State authorities have appealed to the people to use electricity judiciously during the peak hours between 6am and 10am, and between 6pm and 10pm.

The Union power ministry on Sunday said “any fear of disruption in power supply is entirely misplaced”. It said the coal stock at power plants was sufficient for more than four days’ requirement and as the coal supply is being ramped, the coal stock at power plants will gradually improve.

The situation in Andhra Pradesh is precarious, a top official said. “We have stocks that would suffice only for two days. Everyday, we are getting coal supplies from Mahanadi Coal Fields and partly from Singareni, but those are hardly sufficient to scale up production,” said B Sreedhar, chief of Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation. “Except Vijayawada Thermal Power Station, other coal-based power plants were either closed or running below their production capacity due to lack of coal supply.”

Coal inventories at power plants in Bihar are critically depleted, officials said, requesting anonymity. There were power cuts lasting four to eight hours in some parts of the eastern state, particularly in rural areas, they said.

“As per our requirement, either we get it (electricity) from NTPC, or from private companies,” Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said. “But the supply is affected now. There are some reasons due to which such a situation has arisen. It’s not only in Bihar, it’s everywhere.”

However, the power supply situation is improving, Sanjeev Hans, Bihar’s energy secretary, said in a tweet. “There has been a reduction in the open market price... The situation is returning to normal. We will soon be able to ensure availability of power commensurate to its demand,” he said in the tweet.

All coal-fired plants operated by private companies in Punjab have stocks lasting a day and a half left, while state-owned plants have inventories that will last about four days. In past two days, 22 railway wagons of coal were received against a requirement of 44 wagons, an official said, declining being named.

Punjab State Power Corporation has shut some units of power plants, while others are running at half their installed capacity. The state has resorted to power cuts ranging from two to six hours, and the situation is likely to persist till Thursday, the official said. “The demand from agriculture is still persisting due to delayed transplantation of paddy,” he said.

Assam is facing an average shortage of 350 Mw to 400 MW during evening peak hours, when the requirement is close to 2000 MW. “We have been able to purchase only around 200 MW of that requirement from the national power grid and there’s a shortfall of nearly 150 MW to 200 MW due to the power scarcity because of the coal shortage across the country,” said Pradip Baishya, a senior official at state-run Assam Power Distribution Company. The distributor has issued a notice, terming the power position as critical.

Rajasthan has been resorting to power cuts as well. Currently, 9317 MW is available in the state, while the average demand is of 10683 MW, and maximum average demand is of 12200 MW, according to Subodh Agarwal, additional chief secretary at the state’s department of energy.

The state has again written to Union coal secretary Anil Jain to increase coal supply, he said. “Around 11 and a half rakes (wagons) have to be provided daily from Coal India to Rajasthan, whereas at present only five rakes are being dispatched,” Agarwal said.

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Saturday, December 04, 2021