Coal shortage: Delhi may face blackout, says minister; Punjab CM Channi slams Centre over power crisis

National capital's power regulator DERC held an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis and gave relaxations to discoms in power purchases in view of increased prices

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PTI

Delhi could face a power crisis due to coal shortage, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene so that coal and gas can be diverted to generating plants which supply electricity to the national capital.

Delhi Power minister Satyendar Jain said the crisis has been averted for two days after resumption of gas supply to the Bawana plant.

He, however, warned that the national capital may face a "blackout" if NTPC Limited does not supply power in the coming days.

The minister also said it appeared to him that the crisis was "man made".

Jain held a high-level meeting with officials of the power department and power distribution companies earlier in the day and discussed the issue as well as its possible solutions.

Coal shortages across the country have led to reduced power generation and "Delhi might go through intermittent rotational load shedding in the coming days", power discom TPDDL CEO Ganesh Srinivasan said.

The coal-based power stations supplying electricity to Delhi discoms have stocks to meet generation requirements for one to two days against 20 days as per applicable regulations, he claimed in a statement.

National capital's power regulator DERC held an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis and gave relaxations to discoms in power purchases in view of increased prices.

The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission requested the Ministry of Power to urgently intervene and facilitate adequate supply of fuel to the power plants to avoid any outages in Delhi.

Kejriwal said he was keeping a close watch on the situation and his government was doing its best to avoid the power crisis.

"Delhi could face a power crisis. I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it. In the meanwhile, I wrote a letter to Hon'ble PM seeking his personal intervention," Kejriwal tweeted.

In his letter, the Delhi CM drew attention of PM Modi towards the prevailing coal shortage continuing since August/September.

"It has affected the power generation from the major central generating plants supplying power to Delhi," the chief minister said in the letter.

Kejriwal requested the prime minister's intervention for adequate coal to be diverted from other plants to plants like Dadri-II and Jhajjar TPS which are supplying to Delhi.

He also requested gas allocations to Bawana, Pragati -I and GTPS supplying power to the city.

Citing a daily report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) Kejriwal said there was one days coal stock backdrop at NTPC Dadri-II, Jhajjar and DV(CTPS) plants, and four days stock at Singrauli plant.

There was no stock at Meja, he said.

"Maximum rate of power sold in any slot through the exchange, currently at Rs 20 per unit, may be suitably capped to discourage profiteering by traders/generators from the current crisis," he wrote.

He said the measures suggested by him were essential to maintain uninterrupted power in Delhi which is catering to strategic and important installations of national importance apart from supplying power to essential services like the cold chains for the vaccination drives, hospitals, health care centres, and Covid care centres.

"In the interest of consumers of Delhi and the power sector, I request your kind intervention to resolve the current crisis at the earliest," he said, seeking PM Modi's instructions to the ministries and offices concerned for addressing steps suggested by him to resolve the current crisis, and also to take steps to avoid such a situation in future.

The coal stock of power plants supplying electricity to Delhi has dwindled to meet one day need from the stipulated 30 days stock, Jain told reporters, appealing to the Centre to ensure supply of coal and gas to generation plants supplying electricity to Delhi.

"There is politics these days to create a crisis to make it appear some big thing has been done. It seems to be a man made crisis like medical oxygen shortage crisis was," Jain said.

"This country produces coal. The installed capacity of power plants is 3.5 times more than the demand and despite that power generation is stopped. So it appears to be man made," the minister added.

Jain said Delhi is getting 50 percent of the power purchase agreements it has and rationing has to be done.

"There will be problems if adequate power is not provided to Delhi. We have PPAs of around 3,500-4,000 MW with NTPC but only half of it is being supplied. If NTPC does not give power, there will be blackout in Delhi," Jain said.

Delhi government has instructed power purchase beyond PPAs at any cost to ensure 24 hour supply, he said.

"We are purchasing power at Rs 20 per unit. We have directed for purchasing it at any rate for 24-hour supply. But there will be problems if it's not available even at Rs 20 per unit," he said.

He said supply of gas to Bawana plant was stopped on Friday all of a sudden.

"We have talked to the Centre and they are supplying gas. Generation of power from this gas-based plant costs Rs 17 per unit but we are running it.

"The crisis has been averted for two days. But if they stop coal and gas supply, there will be problem. Centre has assured supply of gas for two days and there is no guarantee of supply after that," he said.

Delhi generates a little power through gas. We get most of power from NTPC and its plants have only one-day stock of coal that too at 50 percent capacity, he added.

In Punjab, severe coal shortage at thermal power plants has forced power utility PSPCL to cut down power generation and impose rotational load shedding at several places, prompting the state government to slam the Centre for inadequate coal supply.

Coal-fired power plants are running at a reduced capacity because of shortage of coal, said an official of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited on Saturday.

With power situation turning grim, power plants in the state are left with coal stock of up to five days, said an official of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited.

"Plants are running at a reduced capacity," said the official adding that they were not being run at full capacity in order to conserve coal.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Saturday hit out at the Centre for insufficient coal supply and apprehended impending shutdown of the state's thermal power plants due to fast depleting coal supplies in the next couple of days.

He said Punjab was not getting adequate coal supply despite agreements with various subsidiaries of the Coal India Ltd and asked the Central government to immediately ensure the state's quote of coal to tide over the power crisis.

The demand for power at present is about 9,000 MW in the state.

Officials said besides demand for power from the agriculture sector, high temperatures in the day is also adding to the power requirements in the state.

Though PSPCL officials claimed minimal load shedding, there were reports of power cuts of two to three hours at many places in the state.

Reviewing the power situation amid shortage of coal supply in the state, the CM said all the thermal plants are unable to generate power at full capacity due to insufficient coal receipt.

However, he reiterated his government's firm commitment to give power supply for irrigation of paddy crop where necessary at the fag end of crop yield.

In a statement, Channi, however, said power cuts on domestic consumers in cities and villages are being imposed to ensure sufficient supply to the agriculture sector as well as to maintain grid discipline.

PSPCL Chairman and Managing Director A Venu Prasad told Channi that the thermal plants throughout the country are reeling under coal shortages and coal supplies crisis.

Within the state, independent power producer (IPP) plants are left with less than two days coal that is Nabha Power Ltd (1.9 days), Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd (1.3 days) and GVK (0.6 days).

While the state-owned Ropar thermal plant and Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant are left with coal stock of up to four and five days respectively, said the official.

According to the Central Electricity Authority guidelines, power plants located at a distance of over 1,000 km from a coal mine should always have minimum coal stock of up to 30 days but this level of stock is not maintained by the power plants in the state.

On Friday, power plants had received some coal supply to run their operations, said the official.

In the wake of less generation of power, the PSPCL is buying power through the power exchange but it is costing over Rs 10 per unit which was quite expensive, said the official.

Venuprasad said he has written to the Centre for increasing the coal supply to the state.

Officials claimed that the situation is expected to ease in next couple of days.

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