Centre-state divide, now on power; Union power minister RK Singh blames states as electricity crisis worsens – CASINOIN -Sports betting at the casinoin betting company,casinoin online betting, casinoin bookmaker line, casinoin bookmaker bonuses, casinoin bookmaker, casinoin bookmaker, casinoin sports betting, casinoin bookmaker, casinoin bookmaker,

Union power minister RK Singh on Thursday came down heavily on some state governments who he felt were not taking adequate steps to address a worsening electricity crisis in the country. Several states, he said, were not lifting domestic coal on a war footing, stepping up fuel imports and allowing pass-through of high fuel costs.

Attributing the acute power shortage in the country to a big jump in consumption, the minister said: “There will be some shortages because there are states which have not made the payments to gencos. In other places, they could not lift coal (even the fuel was made available). Part of the crisis is because of their (states’) wrong planning.”

The country’s electricity shortage widened to an unprecedentedly high level of 198.5 million units (mu) on Thursday. Power consumption, which has been on an upswing after the pandemic abated, has accelerated further amid a pick-up in industrial activity and a sweltering summer. 

The peak power demand in the country that was met crossed the 205-gigawatt (GW) mark on Friday, sharply up from 201.06 GW on Tuesday and compared with a level of 182.5 GW a year ago.

Out of 173 pit head/non pit-head power plants in the country, 85 operated with coal stocks of less than 7 days on April 26. This means their fuel stocks are barely 25% of the normative requirement.

Noting that power demand has increased by 20% compared to the pre-Covid level, Singh said this was an “indication as to how fast our economy was growing.” The minister added: Coal companies have ramped up supplies. From a level of 569 million tonne (mt) in FY20, coal production jumped to 665 mt, up 15%. But demand has grown even faster.”

Singh noted that ovedues owed by state-run discoms to gencos stood at Rs 1.05 trillion as on date.

The Cenrte had earlier asked states to invoke a contingency clause to step up power supplies by allowing pass-through of higher fuel costs. Central to the plan is allowing pass-through of fuel costs by imported coal-based (ICB) units, including some under the insolvency resolution process. While some states, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra, have since taken steps to ramp up coal imports, many others haven’t.  The ministry also issued an advisory to state gencos to import up to 10% of coal requirement from abroad.

Since the states need to import only 10% of their coal needs for blending, the increase in cost of power will be below 10 paise/unit, the minister said, adding that this was still cheaper than buying spot power which is caped at Rs 12/unit.     

However, around 3,041 MW of imported coal based (ICB) capacity is now shut, of a total installed ICB capacity of 20,296 MW. Worse, the average plant load factor for operational ICBs is as low as 25.4% according to latest Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data.

The PLF of total installed thermal capacity of 202,687 MW as of April 26 was 66.6%.

As against a level of $50-60 per tonne a year ago, cost of imported coal ruled at around $160 per tonne in January but has jumped to around $250/tonne at present. Indian ICB power plants import coal mainly from Indonesia, Australia, and South Africa. Analysts say given the Russia-Ukraine crisis, imported coal prices will remain elevated at around $180-200/tonne over the next 8-12 months, say analysts.

Total power generation in the country is projected to be 1,640 billion units in FY23, but actual supplies will be less by around 8% because of auxiliary consumption. There could also be some transmission losses. Peak demand in the year may be 215 gigawatt. Supplies of around 1,550 billion units would be required to meet the demand, the government reckons.

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Author: Howard Caldwell