The government has directed all gas-based power generating stations to operationalise their plants from May 1 to June 30 in view of rise in electricity demand due to a likely prolonged heat wave this summer.

A significant portion of gas-based generating stations (GBSs) is currently unutilised, primarily due to commercial considerations.

The ministry has projected 260 GW peak power demand this summer (April to June 2024). Peak power demand had touched an all-time high of 243 GW in September last year.

The decision to operationalise GBSs is part of a series of measures taken by the Centre to ensure that electricity demand in the summer is met.

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According to a power ministry statement, the order shall remain valid for generation and supply of electricity from May 1, 2024 to June 30, 2024.

"To ensure maximum power generation from gas-based generating stations, the government has issued directions to all Gas-Based Generating Stations under Section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003, under which the appropriate government may specify that a generating company shall, in extraordinary circumstances operate and maintain any generating station in accordance with the directions of that government," the statement said.

The order under Section 11, which is on similar lines as done for imported coal-based power plants, aims to optimise the availability of power from GBSs during the ensuing high demand period.

As per the arrangement, GRID-INDIA will inform GBSs in advance, of the number of days for which gas-based power is required.

GBSs holding Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with distribution licensees shall first offer their power to PPA holders.

If the power offered is not utilised by any PPA holder, then it shall be offered in the power market.

GBSs not tied to PPAs must offer their generation in the power market. A high-level committee headed by Chairperson, Central Electricity Authority has been constituted to facilitate the implementation of this direction.

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Other measures taken by the government to meet the summer demand include planned maintenance of power plants to be shifted to monsoon season; new capacity additions to be fast-tracked and partial outages of thermal power plants being brought down.

India's electricity demand has been rising rapidly, driven by economic growth, particularly during hot-weather and high-demand periods.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted above-normal maximum temperatures over most parts of the country during the 2024 summer.