Coal shortage hits power generation, tariff may rise

Nagpur: Coal shortage in state’s power plants will increase your power bills as Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MSEDCL) is buying costly power from other sources to avert load shedding. Consumers will realize in the summer months when the extra expenses are recovered through fuel surcharge.

The average rate of MSEDCL power purchase from Mahagenco and private producers on long-term basis is Rs3.79 per unit. On the other hand, cost of power purchased through short-term tenders is Rs3.94 per unit and power purchased from exchanges costs Rs4.68 per unit. The extra expense incurred by the discom will be recovered from consumers.

An MSEDCL spokesperson said the company had signed long-term agreements with power generators to purchase 19,600 MW. “However, this month MSEDCL is getting only 14,000 MW on an average from these sources, which implies a shortage of 5,600 MW. The low generation is due to coal shortage in power plants. On the other hand, the demand has touched 18,700 MW,” he added.

“MSEDCL is meeting the high demand partly through hydro-electricity (1,500 MW), wind and solar (650 MW) but it is forced to buy 650 MW through short-term tenders and between 500 MW and 1,800 MW from exchanges. Power from exchanges is purchased during day hours only,” the spokesperson further said.

Power producers express helplessness in handling the situation. The 3,300 MW Tiroda plant of Adani Power is in bad shape. “Two 660 MW units have been taken offline while the remaining three are operating on less than a day’s coal stock. As per norms, a plant should have over 14 days coal stock,” an Adani official said.

The official blamed South-Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) for not providing the assured quantity of coal. “Railways is also unable to transport required quantity of coal,” he said.

The Adani official said that if the situation did not improve, the entire plant could shut down at any moment depriving MSEDCL of another 2,000 MW. If this happens, the discom will have to buy power at even higher rates during peak summer. It may not be possible to bridge the gap and the state may have to face load shedding.

The condition of National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC’s) 2,320 MW Mouda power plant is no better. “One 660 MW unit has been taken offline. The remaining three are generating on less than a day’s stock,” Raj Kumar, group general manager, told TOI.

Three units of RattanIndia’s 1,350 MW power plant at Amravati are not functioning due to coal shortage.

The power producers are suffering monetary loss due to coal shortage. MSEDCL deducted Rs930 crore from Adani’s bills in 2017-18 till January for failure to supply assured quantum of electricity. RattanIndia was disallowed Rs160 crore while Mahagenco suffered a loss of Rs 1,590 crore.

While Bilaspur-based SECL is being blamed for coal shortage in Adani, NTPC and RattanIndia’s power plants, the Nagpur-based Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) is not blameless either. In an affidavit submitted before the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court, Mahagenco stated that WCL was supplying 44% less coal to its power plants. Some of Mahagenco’s units are also offline due to coal shortage.

Mozaffar EtezadiFar

Founder at Energykade
Mozaffar owns degrees in electrical engineering as BSc and power management as MSc. He has worked in fields of energy and e-commerce. He believes that energy and IT can help each other to save more energy and our planet. So here is energykade...
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