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Private power plants in dire straits in state

UPPCL’s poor paying capacity, coal shortage and unremunerative tariff in one case have made the Rosa and Anpara C plants unviable

lucknow Updated: Dec 18, 2012 13:38 IST
Brajendra K Parashar

The state’s only two private power plants — Rosa and Anpara C — have started feeling the heat within a year of their seeing the light of the day. The funds-starved UP Power Corporation Ltd’s poor paying capacity, prevailing coal shortage and unremunerative tariff (in the case of Anpara C) have made the plants unviable to the extent that their owners are not able to run them smoothly.

The 1200-MW Rosa thermal plant, owned by Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) in Shahajahanpur district, has been in trouble since the beginning because the UPPCL that buys electricity from it is broke and not able to make regular payments.

Sources said the UPPCL owed the Rosa plant Rs. 300 crore for the electricity purchased over the period of time.

“The power we purchase from the REL’s Rosa plant is quite costly at around Rs. 5 per unit and this sometimes makes it difficult for us to clear dues,” a senior UPPCL official said.

Little winder then that the REL, obviously as a pressure tactic, often hand-strips (closes deliberately) one or the other units of the plant on the pretext of lack of coal or a technical fault, depriving the state of electricity. “The REL has handtripped its units even in summer when there was an acute power shortage in the state. This is a bid to pressure us to pay its dues,” claimed UPPCL sources.

Another 1200 MW-thermal plant owned by a Hyderabadbased private company, Lanco Infratech is also in trouble. However, its problem is a little different from that of REL’s Rosa plant. Unlike Rosa whose power is costlier, the power tariff at which the Anpara C is agreement-bound to sell electricity to the UPPCL is said to be unremunerative to the extent that each unit it sells to the power corporation leaves it with a loss of 30-35 paise.

“Anpara C is facing a loss of around Rs 100 crore a month because of unremunerative tariff which it quoted during bids in its desperation to grab the contract which it thought to be a lucrative one then,” said sources. They claimed the company was not in a position to run the plant and it might sell to any other buyer unless the UPPCL suitably revises the current tariff which is merely Rs. 1.90 per unit.

Call it coal shortage or companies’ deliberate attempt to cut down on losses, both the REL’s Rosa and Lanco’s Anpara C plants are producing power below their capacities these days. For example, as per the information available on the Northern Regional Load Dispatch Centre (NRLDC), the generation at the 1200 MW Rosa plant has been around 800-900 MW for more than a week while the Anpara C is generating only around 300-400 MW out of 1200 MW capacity.

“This raises a question mark on the viability of similar other private power plants that are in the pipeline in the state,” argued a senior official.

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