States sound the alarm on coal crisis

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 12, 2021

70 thermal plants have less than four days’ stock; Centre asks Discoms to do energy audit

Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Power Minister RK Singh and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi as anxieties persisted in several States about coal stocks at power plants.

According to the latest coal stock data of the 135 plants with over 165 GW of installed generation capacity monitored by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as many as 70 plants are categorised as “supercritical” or having less than four days of fuel on October 10 compared to 64 a week ago on October 3 against a normative requirement of 14 days reserve.

The Centre tightened the reins on power distribution companies by instructing them to undertake energy accounting on a periodic basis. The notification came in the wake of RK Singh cautioning Discoms, especially Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd against sending messages to its consumers about “limited coal availability”.

The Centre has underlined “legacy issues” of heavy dues of coal companies from certain States, including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Coal availability

The States, on their part, sounded alarm bells about limited coal stocks. In Andhra Pradesh, the AP power generation corporation (APGenco), which meets about 45 per cent of the State’s energy needs, reported coal stocks “hardly for a couple days”.

“The coal-based power plants are operating at less than 50 per cent of their 90 MU/day capacity because of coal shortages,” said an official. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy also sent an SoS to the Prime Minister on the power and energy crisis in the State.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the power situation is “very critical” in the entire country even as his cabinet colleague Satyendar Jain claimed that the Delhi government has to depend on costly gas-based power and spot purchase at high market rate as the NTPC has halved electricity supply to the city.

In Tamil Nadu, the latest official data (as of October 10), five thermal plants (including a JV) run by Tami Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) had an average stock of about four days. While Mettur TPS had coal stock for two days, Mettur TPS II carried stock for five days. North Chennai Power Station and Tuticorin Power Stations of Tangedco had coal stocks for five and four days respectively.

In Maharashtra, 13 thermal power plant units supplying power to Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) are shut because of a coal shortage. MSEDCL is reportedly purchasing electricity at ₹20 per unit to avoid load shedding, especially in urban areas. It has appealed to consumers to use electricity sparingly from 6 am to 10 am and from 6 pm to 10 pm to balance the demand and availability.

In Kerala, Power Minister K Krishnan Kutty called upon consumers to remain prepared for any contingency in view of the coal shortage upcountry. “I do not think this could be addressed any time soon. This would leave the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) with hardly any choice but to go for load shedding,” he said.

Published on October 11, 2021

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