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Looming crisis: Punjab’s Rajpura power plant staring at shutdown due to coal shortage

Punjab may face shortage of 1,400 MW of electricity during paddy season in mid-September when power demand is set to soar .

punjab Updated: Sep 15, 2017 09:49 IST
Vishal Rambani
Vishal Rambani
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Looming crisis,Rajpura power plant,shutdown
Due to the delay and short supply of coal from Coal India Limited, the L&T will shut down one of its 700 MW units anytime after Thursday midnight. (Representative image/HT File)

As the L&T Rajpura Thermal Power Plant is on the verge of shutting down due to coal shortage, Punjab may face a shortage of 1,400 MW of electricity during the paddy season in mid-September, when the power demand is set to soar.

Due to the delay and short supply of coal from Coal India Limited, the L&T will shut down one of its 700 MW units anytime after Thursday midnight.

L&T is the most efficient among private power plants in the state. The Rajpura plant generates power at the lowest tariff among private sector plants, becoming the foremost plant when it comes to place order for power generation, particularly during the paddy season.

Sources said that while the power plant has made repeated pleas to the Union coal ministry, Coal India Limited and the state government, seeking their intervention to shore up coal supplies, no significant improvement is forthcoming. L&T gets coal from Coal India from Chhattisgarh.

The shutting down of the cheapest source of power will undoubtedly cause an increase in the cost of procurement of power by the cash-starved Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), which will further affect its financial position.

It is also learnt that for the large part of the current year, PSPCL’s own generating units have not been running and have accumulated substantial coal stocks. “Due to shortage of coal, we have decided to shut one unit of 700 MW anytime after Thursday midnight. We have taken up the matter with the Coal India several times, but to no avail. L&T has also urged the state government to intervene in the matter, as the power demand soars in mid-September for irrigation of paddy, which then reaches the maturation stage,” said an L&T official

He confirmed that they have conveyed their decision to shut one of its units to the PSPCL.

On the other hand, PSPCL officials say that there will be no problem to meet the rising demand as four PSPCL units — three units of 210 MW each at the Ropar Thermal Plant and one unit of the Lehra Mohabatt (240 MW) are currently shut down, and these can be operated anytime to meet any exigency.

However, once both units of the L&T plant shut down, the PSPCL may have to face some problem.

Meanwhile, PSPCL Director (Generation) MR Parhar said, “There may be coal shortage at a private plant. In case Rajpura plant is shut down, we will meet the demand by increasing our own generation by running our plants, which are currently shut down. The PSPCL has a coal stock of 18 days.”

First Published: Sep 15, 2017 09:47 IST