No festival of ‘lights’? Ahead of Diwali, Punjab faces unscheduled power cuts
Coal crisis: Most plants of PSPCL left with coal stocks for a few days, private plants forced to halve their generationpunjab Updated: Oct 16, 2017 16:56 IST
Ahead of Diwali, known as the festival of lights, a power crisis is looming large in Punjab, as the coal stocks with the state-owned power corporation and private thermal plants have reached a stage of near-depletion, hitting electricity generation and prompting unscheduled power cuts.
Due to coal crisis, private plants have reduced their generation to half of the installed capacity, raising an alarm for the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).
Though the demand for electricity has decreased with the end of the paddy harvesting season, the corporation is still facing tough time to meet the demand and enforcing unscheduled cuts in the state.
Supply to agri sector slashed from 8 to 4 hours
Several towns, including Patiala, Sangrur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ludhiana and Jalandhar, faced unscheduled cuts. Besides, the power supply to the agricultural sector has been reduced from eight to four hours. This has caused problem for farmers growing basmati, vegetables, fruits and flowers who need adequate irrigation in this season.
Having supplied almost hassle-free power during the summer and peak paddy harvesting season, the PSPCL is finding it difficult to cater to the power demand nowadays. Though Punjab’s average power demand, which was 11,000 MW during June to mid September, has come down to 6,500 MW, the PSPCL is finding it hard to meet even this reduced demand.
The major reason behind this crisis is coal shortage. Though almost the entire country is facing shortage of coal these days, the situation in Punjab is quite grave.
Plants operating at reduced capacity
Against the installed capacity of 1,400 MW, the L&T Thermal Plant, Rajpura, is supplying only 330 MW, while the Talwandi Sabo plant is generating 1,250 MW against its capacity of 1,960 MW. Similarly, the Goindwal plant is running only one unit to supply 240 MW against the installed capacity of 540 MW.
“We have no other option than to reduce generation as the coal stocks have reduced to negligible. The Coal India Limited has failed to supply coal as per our demand,” said an official of a private thermal plant.
Though Punjab’s average power demand, which was 11,000 MW during June to mid September, has come down to 6,500 MW, the PSPCL is finding it hard to meet even this reduced demand.
As per the standard operational norms, a thermal plant located over at a distance of 1,000 km from a coal mine must have stocks for running the plant for 30 days.
However, the Rajpura plant is left with coal stocks only for one day. The Talwandi Sabo plant has stocks for two days and at the Goindwal Sahib plant for only six days. Due to coal shortage, the L&T has sent an SOS to the PSPCL and said that it will run only one unit for the next three days, that too at half of its capacity.
Similar is the situation at the state-owned thermal plants. The Ropar plant has coal stocks for only 10 days, while the Lehra Mohabbat plant has coal for only four days, The Bathinda plant has been shut by the PSPCL management, even as the government has yet to take a final decision on its closure.
Taken up matter with Centre: PSPCL
When Contacted, PSPCL director (distribution) NK Sharma said that the corporation is seized of the matter, and has already taken up the matter of coal shortage with the central government. “Even the private plants have been directed to procure more coal, as it is their duty to run their plants.”
Sharma said he is hopeful that more coal rakes will arrive in the next two days, which will ease out the situation.
“Our engineers have repeatedly raised the issue with the PSPCL management, urging it to make it mandatory for private plants to keep reserve coal stocks for 20 days, but they didn’t enforce such a norm. Suddenly, these plants have reduced their generation to half of their capacity, plunging the power corporation into a crisis,” said a power engineer.
He added, “As of now, we have lowered the power supply to the agricultural sector and also enforced unscheduled cuts. The demand for power is set to soar next week due to Diwali festival. We have already sent an SOS to the management in this regard.”