West Bengal power scenario may get brighter

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on January 26, 2011 Published on January 26, 2011

Over a crore electricity consumers in West Bengal can expect a significant improvement in situation in two years.

The changes are expected from two corners: An all-round revamp of operations of the State generation utility — West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd (WBPDCL) — and a sharp rise in contribution of the Central sector, including NTPC and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC).

NTPC and DVC supply a maximum of 1000 MW to Bengal.

According to sources, for the first time since unbundling of the erstwhile State electricity board in the middle of the last decade, the State Government has silently launched a Rs 175-230-crore project to improve the efficiencies of the power stations under WBPDCL.

The project is expected to be completed in two years.

The State generation utility absorbed a loss in revenue of Rs 350 crore in 2009-10 for failing to reach the capacity utilisation (plant load factor) targets, as stipulated by the regulator.

Despite having a rated capacity of 4,170 MW, WBPDCL generates 2,700-2,800 MW. The generation capacity is expected to increase by 250 MW, with the commissioning of a new unit at Santhaldih, within a month.

That's not all; approximately Rs 200 crore is lost due to operational inefficiencies including demurrages to railways on wagon unloading delays; high consumption of energy; low energy output ratio — due to use of either low quality coal or inadequate burning of coal — and other reasons.

According to sources, much of the inefficiencies are arising out of poor maintenance of the plants. As against a national standard of 6 per cent generation loss (out of the rated capacity) due to maintenance shut-down, WBPDCL lost than 3 per cent loss of generation due to maintenance issues.

The proposed investments are, therefore, targeted at capital maintenance of the facilities and replacement of inefficient auxiliary facilities.

Also, imported coal will be used for blending to enhance the energy output for every tonne of coal.

“The programme is expected to ensure higher as well as more stable generation regime in next two years,” a senior state official told Business Line.

Though WBPDCL has recently firmed up plans to add two units of 500 MW each at Sagardighi, sources said that the company is not considering further investment in generation capacities.

The company has transferred the proposed greenfield Katwa thermal power plant to NTPC for setting up a 2 X 800-MW unit. Half of the capacity will be allocated to Bengal.

In addition, the State Government has firmed up plans to procure 1,790 MW from NTPC's upcoming projects in the country by 2015-16. Many more PPAs are reportedly awaiting the approval of the Central Electric Authority.

With three greenfield projects totalling 1,500 MW nearing completion, contribution of DVC is also expected to increase dramatically from the next fiscal.

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Published on January 26, 2011
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