Old may be gold, but certainly not in the case of Uttar Pradesh’s power sector. Half of the total power generation in India’s most populous state is done by power plants which have outlived their normal life and are, in fact, on crutches of government support. These power plants repeatedly develop snags and trip, forcing the state government to purchase power from outside sources at higher cost.
In an emergency note sent to the state government, the state-owned UP Vidyut Utpadan Nigam (UPRVUNLL) has said that out of the total installed capacity of around 4900 Mw in the state sector, more than 2500 Mw is being generated by power plants which have exhausted their lifespan. This is almost 51% of the total installed capacity. The startling revelation crucially casts a dark shadow on power availability in the state at the time of peaking demand for power in the wake of high daytime temperatures.
The average life span of a power plant is around 25 years. But in UP, some of the power plants, like a 100Mw unit at Obra, are as old as 47 years old.
Similar is the situation at Harduaganj where a unit has grown 45 years old. Then, there are five units of 200Mw each in Obra which were established in 1981 and are now around 34 years old.
“The ageing power system in the state has been a cause of serious concern for the corporation,” admitted UPRVUNL Director (Technical), Murlidhar Bhagchandani.
“The only way out now is to get these units dismantled and install new ones,” he said, while speaking to TOI. UPRVUNL sources said that the age-old power plants have been repeatedly developing snags resulting in their tripping and eventually causing serious power crisis. “Some of them take excess time in getting overhauled and renovated. Their prolonged revival subsequently results in financial burden on the state government,” said a senior UPRVUNL official.
The poor performance of old state-owned power plants also puts a pressure on the power distribution utility, the UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) which finds no other option but to resort to purchase of power from external sources. This is, most of the time, an expensive proposition. The higher cost of power eventually translates into added burden on the end use consumer who is asked to pay more.