Coal shortage may hit generation in thermal power plants in Tamil Nadu

TANGEDCO officials told Express that the current availability of coal stock to generate power in the thermal stations will only last less than a week.

Published: 16th May 2018 06:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2018 06:01 AM   |  A+A-

Coal India will close down high-risk mines that are beyond mitigation. (File photo | AP)

Image for representational purpose only. (File | AP)

Express News Service

NAMAKKAL: At a time when Tamil Nadu’s electricity demand has crossed 15,000 mega watts per day, three major thermal power stations in the State, which collectively produce 4,320 MW on a daily basis, are facing shortage of coal. TANGEDCO officials told Express that the current availability of coal stock to generate power in the thermal stations will only last less than a week, going by which the State may face power outages in the coming days.

The Corporation runs three thermal plants in Thoothukudi, Mettur and North Chennai producing 4,320 MW altogether for which about 50,000 tonnes of coal is used daily. TANGEDCO, which procures coal from Coal India, is now running short of it. With power consumption having gone up in summer touching a new high of 15,440 MW early this month, TANGEDCO had asked the thermal stations to ensure that the coal lasted for at least 10 to 15 days. But now that they are running low, officials are worried and working on strategies to tackle the imminent crisis.

“The coal requirement for thermal power plants has suddenly increased owing to reduction in supply. While 64,000 tonnes of coal is usually procured from Odisha and West Bengal every day, we get only about 40,000 tonnes now. Hence, the stock in Mettur plant will last only for eight days, in North Chennai for two days and in Thoothukudi for six days,” an official source said.

He further said 3.4 lakh tonnes of coal is kept ready at Paradip port in Odisha, Haldia port in West Bengal and Vishakapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh for dispatch to Tamil Nadu. “They could not be shipped due to insufficient vessels. Moreover, the central coal mines too did not send coal. In addition to these, the supply by private coal mines to TANGEDCO has come down to five lakh tonnes,” he explained the reason for shortage.
TANGEDCO wants the central government to intervene and arrange for shipping facilities to ensure distribution of coal, failing which the state would have to face power crisis. An official in Mettur thermal power plant said, “As the wind season has started early this month and as we undertake annual maintenance work in summer, we are managing the coal shortage. However, TANGEDCO did not procure high grade coal from Singaneri coal mines in Telangana, which is why there is a heavy shortage.” He, however, ruled out frequent power outages in the state.

When contacted, TANGEDCO chairman Vikram Kapur was confident of managing the situation. “It is true that the corporation faces coal shortage. However, Chief Minister has already written to Prime Minister on this. Rail rakes are also insufficient. Only 16 out of 20 rakes (of coal) were sent. We have urged the Centre to increase the number of ships as well as the coal supply.”He, however, said there are no unusual power cuts in Tamil Nadu this summer unlike other states.

All-time high consumption
With consumption have touched a high of 15,440 MW early this month, TANGEDCO had asked the thermal stations to ensure that the coal lasted for at least 10 to 15 days. But now that they are running low, officials are worried and working on strategies to tackle the imminent crisis

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