State shuts down power generation units as mercury rises

Even as mercury soars and power consumption starts to go up, 11 of the 14 units in three state-owned thermal power plants of Punjab have been shut. Punjab State Power Corporation (PSPCL) claims low demand of power is the reason. Sources, however, claim that shortage of coal has forced the corporation to go slow in order to preserve its low stocks for the upcoming paddy sowing season.

At present, one unit each at Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant at Lehra Mohabbat, Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant in Bathinda and Guru Gobind Singh Thermal Plant in Roopnagar are producing electricity. Three units each of Lehra and Bathinda plants and five units of Roopnagar plant have been shut down. During paddy sowing, which starts from June 10, PSPCL will have to provide eight hour power supply to agriculture sector. The three power plants have a capacity to generate 2,640 MW electricity but the 3 functional units are producing only 540 MW. The three plants have coal stocks of 23-24 days, sources said.

As per central electricity authority (CEA) guidelines at least 21 days stock of coal is required to run the thermal plants smoothly. Last year the coal stocks had dwindled up to only 2-3 days.

Four units of Lehra plant produce 920 MW power, four units of Bathinda plant produce 460 MW and six units of Roopnagar produce 1,260 MW power. The saving grace for the state is privately managed Rajpura plant is producing 1,400MW power and Banawala in Mansa plant is producing 660 MW of power through its one unit.

Highly-placed sources said Punjab gets 60% coal supply from the captive coalmine it has been allotted and 40 percent from coal India limited. Currently, the power plants are getting coal supply only from Coal India as the captive mine is yet to start supplying to Punjab. A fire had broken out in the coal mine in Jharkhand in April which as per has fully not been controlled.

According to PSPCL officials, the three power plants if operated on full capacity daily need 12-13 rakes of coal whereas presently only 3-4 rakes are reaching the state.

PSPCL director generation M R Parihar confirmed that 11 units of three plants though have been shut but the state is not facing any power crisis. “We are imposing no cuts and power production is satisfactory as per demand,” he said.

He said the whole state will not get coal supplies from the coalmine allotted to it till nearly six months and now PSPCL is getting coal from coal India and whenever the demand will increase we will request the coal India to increase coal supplies.

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