Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Aug 07, 2004
Industry & Economy
KPTCL turns to hydel stations
Bangalore , Aug. 6
WITH the southwest monsoon in full swing, Karnataka has backed down the liquid fuel stations in the State and is meeting most requirements from low tariff hydroelectric stations.
Sources said here that the generating company, Karnataka Power Corporation's hydel stations were currently generating close to about 38 million units a day. This included the Almatti project, which was currently contributing about 3 lakh units into the grid. Only a 15-MW unit of the Almatti project has so far become operational. The remaining 275 MW (5 units of 55 MW each) was still under construction and was expected to become fully operational in 2005.
Monsoon has reduced the power requirement to about 75 million units (mu) a day, as against the normal requirement of about 95 mu.
This situation has allowed the State-owned transmission entity, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd, to get the high tariff, liquid fuelled generating stations to back down. Liquid fuelled independent power producers have a capacity of 328 MW, the largest being the GMR Vasavi-owned barge-mounted 220 MW Tanir Bhavi Power Project.
The backing down of the liquid fuelled independent power producers has restricted the cash outflows from KPTCL to just fixed charges.
The backing down saved the KPTCL large amounts by way of fuel charges. All three stations are naphtha-based and have fuel costs linked to the import parity price. Since fuel costs are treated as pass through, it gets loaded on to the power tariffs. Fuel charges have been on the ascent, with international naphtha prices topping $410 tonne. This pushes up the tariff from liquid fuel projects, a $100 increase over the previous year.
Moreover the rupee has also depreciated. The combined effect of the rupee depreciation and the rise in naphtha prices have pushed up power tariffs from liquid fuelled stations over Rs 5 a unit.
Consequently, the sources said the option was to let the liquid fuel stations to back down, especially when low cost hydel power was already available. The weighted average tariff from hydel stations was about 20 per cent of liquid fuelled stations.
However, the sources said, hydel stations were also being conserved to ensure power availability during the summer months, when farm loads increase.
As a result, the sources said, the 1470 MW Raichur Thermal station was also being utilised at least 50 per cent plant load factor and contributing about 17.4 mu to the grid.
Currently, the inflows into the Sharavathy Valley, the mainstay of Karnataka's hydel power, was about 59,000 cubic feet per second, allowing for a storage capacity equivalent to 2,700 mu. The high inflows allowed the project to operate at a peak capacity of 925 MW or about 9.1 mu per day, the sources said. But some of the other units such as the Supa Dam and the Nagjhari powerhouse (NPH) also were being operated at peak capacity. The NPH was contributing a little over 10 mu to the grid.
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