Officials reach Union Minister RK Singh's residence for meeting as Delhi stares at power crisis

Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain yesterday cautioned that there could be complete blackout in the national capital after two days if power plants do not receive an immediate supply of coal.

Published: 10th October 2021 12:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th October 2021 12:44 PM   |  A+A-


Image for representational purposes (Express Illustration)


NEW DELHI: Amid the possibility of a power blackout in the national capital, the officials of Delhi's Power Ministry, BSES and Tata power reached the residence of Union Power Minister RK Singh on Sunday for a meeting over coal shortage at power plants.

Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain yesterday cautioned that there could be complete blackout in the national capital after two days if power plants supplying electricity to the national capital do not receive an immediate supply of coal.

In order to resolve the power crisis in Delhi, Jain said that the government is even ready to buy expensive electricity at present.

Earlier today, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also warned that the national capital could face a power crisis.

"I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it," Kejriwal said in a tweet.

He also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday saying that there is a coal shortage situation that has affected the power generation plants supplying power to national capital territory and requested him to intervene in the matter. 

Delhi Power minister Satyendar Jain said the crisis has been averted for two days after resumption of gas supply to the Bawana plant.

He, however, warned that the national capital may face a "blackout" if NTPC Limited does not supply power in the coming days.

The minister also said it appeared to him that the crisis was "man made".

Jain held a high-level meeting with officials of the power department and power distribution companies earlier in the day and discussed the issue as well as its possible solutions.

Coal shortages across the country has led to reduced power generation and "Delhi might go through intermittent rotational load shedding in the coming days", power discom TPDDL CEO Ganesh Srinivasan said.

The coal-based power stations supplying electricity to Delhi discoms have stocks to meet generation requirements for one to two days against 20 days as per applicable regulations, he claimed in a statement.

National capital's power regulator DERC held an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis and gave relaxations to discoms in power purchases in view of increased prices.

The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission requested the Ministry of Power to urgently intervene and facilitate adequate supply of fuel to the power plants to avoid any outages in Delhi.

Kejriwal said he was keeping a close watch on the situation and his government was doing its best to avoid the power crisis.

"Delhi could face a power crisis. I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it. In the meanwhile, I wrote a letter to Hon'ble PM seeking his personal intervention," Kejriwal tweeted.

In his letter, the Delhi CM drew attention of PM Modi towards the prevailing coal shortage continuing since August/September.

"It has affected the power generation from the major central generating plants supplying power to Delhi," the chief minister said in the letter.

Kejriwal requested the prime minister's intervention for adequate coal to be diverted from other plants to plants like Dadri-II and Jhajjar TPS which are supplying to Delhi.

He also requested gas allocations to Bawana, Pragati -I and GTPS supplying power to the city.

Citing a daily report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) Kejriwal said there was one days coal stock backdrop at NTPC Dadri-II, Jhajjar and DV(CTPS) plants, and four days stock at Singrauli plant.

There was no stick at Meja, he said.

"Maximum rate of power sold in any slot through the exchange, currently at Rs 20 per unit, may be suitably capped to discourage profiteering by traders/generators from the current crisis," he wrote.

He said the measures suggested by him were essential to maintain uninterrupted power in Delhi which is catering to strategic and important installations of national importance apart from supplying power to essential services like the cold chains for the vaccination drives, hospitals, health care centres, and Covid care centres.

"In the interest of consumers of Delhi and the power sector, I request your kind intervention to resolve the current crisis at the earliest," he said, seeking PM Modi's instructions to the ministries and offices concerned for addressing steps suggested by him to resolve the current crisis, and also to take steps to avoid such a situation in future.

The coal stock of power plants supplying electricity to Delhi has dwindled to meet one day need from the stipulated 30 days stock, Jain told reporters, appealing to the Centre to ensure supply of coal and gas to generation plants supplying electricity to Delhi.

"There is politics these days to create a crisis to make it appear some big thing has been done. It seems to be a man made crisis like medical oxygen shortage crisis was," Jain said.

"This country produces coal. The installed capacity of power plants is 3.5 times more than the demand and despite that power generation is stopped. So it appears to be man made," the minister added.

Jain said Delhi is getting 50 percent of the power purchase agreements it has and rationing has to be done.

"There will be problems if adequate power is not provided to Delhi. We have PPAs of around 3,500-4,000 MW with NTPC but only half of it is being supplied. If NTPC does not give power, there will be blackout in Delhi," Jain said.

Delhi government has instructed power purchase beyond PPAs at any cost to ensure 24 hour supply, he said.

"We are purchasing power at Rs 20 per unit. We have directed for purchasing it at any rate for 24-hour supply. But there will be problems if it's not available even at Rs 20 per unit," he said.

He said supply of gas to Bawana plant was stopped on Friday all of a sudden.

"We have talked to the Centre and they are supplying gas. Generation of power from this gas-based plant costs Rs 17 per unit but we are running it."

"The crisis has been averted for two days. But if they stop coal and gas supply, there will be problem. Centre has assured supply of gas for two days and there is no guarantee of supply after that," he said.

"Delhi generates a little power through gas. We get most of power from NTPC and its plants have only one-day stock of coal that too at 50 percent capacity," he added.

In a year when the country produced record coal, rains hit movement of the fuel from mines to power generation units, impacting power generation in many states, including Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

While power producers and distributors have warned of blackouts as generation units are running coal as low as two days, the Coal Ministry said the country has adequate coal stocks and low inventory doesn't mean generation will stop as stock is being continuously replenished.

Another factor that has contributed to the present crisis is power plants that used imported coal to generate electricity, have either curtailed generation or completely stopped as a spurt in international energy prices has made it difficult for them to meet the commitments to states at a particular rate.

Tata Power, which has signed contracts to supply 1,850 MW of electricity to Gujarat, 475 MW to Punjab, 380 MW to Rajasthan, 760 MW to Maharashtra and 380 MW to Haryana from its imported coal-based power plant at Mundra in Gujarat, has stopped generation.

Adani Power's Mundra unit too is facing similar problem.

Power plants across the country regulated generation after stock ran low.

Against the requirement of maintaining 15 days to 30 days of stocks, over half of the country's 135 coal-fired power plants, which in total supply around 70 per cent of the nation's electricity, have fuel stocks of less than two days, as per the data from the grid operator.

The Coal Ministry, however, said the stocks being reported by power plants is a rolling stock, which means stocks are being replenished on a day by day basis.

"There is about 40 million tonnes of coal stocks at the mines and another 7.5 million tonnes at power plants," a top ministry official said.

"Evacuation from mines to power plants has been an issue as excessive rains as mines get flooded. But this is now being sorted out and supplies to power plants are rising."

Tata Power Distribution Ltd (TPDDL) - which supplies electricity to parts of the national capital - on Saturday warned of intermittent rotational power cuts as units supplying electricity to Delhi discoms have coal stocks to meet generation requirements for 1-2 days, its CEO Ganesh Srinivasan said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shot off a letter to the Prime Minister over "a power crisis" Delhi could face.

"I am personally keeping a close watch over the situation. We are trying our best to avoid it," Kejriwal said.

"We have stopped generation at Mundra as high cost of imported coal is making it impossible to supply under present PPA terms," a Tata power spokesperson said.

Adani Power did not immediately offer any comments on the issue.

Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) too cited the same reason for imposing rotational 3-4 hour load shedding at several places in the state.

Rajasthan is resorting to one hour power cuts on a daily basis.

Electricity supplies in Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh too have been impacted due to the coal crisis.

PSPCL said two units each at Talwandi Sabo power plant, Ropar plant and one unit at the Lehra Mohabbat, 475 MW plant have been shut.

In Rajasthan, electricity supplies are being cut for one hour daily while the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) said that power will be suspended in parts of Chennai for carrying out maintenance work in the city.

Jharkhand and Bihar are also among the worst affected by the coal shortage.

In Andhra Pradesh, acute supply shortfalls were pushing it towards unscheduled power cuts, adding that crops could dry up if there is no electricity to power irrigation pumps.

"More water is required in the last stage of harvesting and if it is denied, fields would dry up and farmers stand to lose," Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

In Odisha, the industry was facing coal shortage and have petitioned the state government to ensure adequate supply of the fuel.

The crisis facing states has been in the making for months.

As India's economy picked up after a deadly second wave of Covid-19, demand for power rose sharply.

Electricity consumption has jumped almost 17 per cent in the last two months alone when compared to the same period in 2019.

At the same time global coal prices increased by 40 per cent and India's imports fell to a two-year low.

The country is the world's second largest importer of coal despite also being home to the fourth largest coal reserves in the world.

Power plants that usually rely on imports are now heavily dependent on Indian coal, adding further pressure to already stretched domestic supplies.

An inter-ministerial sub-group led by the Ministry of Coal has been monitoring the coal stock situation twice a week.

In order to manage the coal stock and ensure equitable distribution of coal, the Ministry of Power constituted a Core Management Team (CMT) which is closely monitoring and managing the coal stocks on a daily basis and ensuring follow up actions with Coal India Ltd and Railways to improve the coal supply to power plants.

Dispatches of coal by Coal India Ltd touched 1.501 million tonnes on October 7, reducing the gap between consumption and actual supply, sources said adding efforts to increase dispatches to power sector to 1.6 million tonnes per day in the next three days and thereafter to 1.7 million tonnes is being attempted.

Sources ascribed four reasons for the depletion of coal stocks at the power plant - unprecedented increase in demand of electricity due to revival of economy, heavy rains in coal mine areas during September impacting production as well as despatch, increase in prices of imported coal to unprecedented high level leading to substantial reduction in power generation from imported coal based power plants, and non-building of adequate coal stocks before the onset of Monsoon.

The daily consumption of electricity has crossed beyond 4 billion units per day.

Imported coal price of Indonesian coal jumped from USD 60 per tonne in March to USD 160, resulting in 43.6% reduction in power generation from imported coal which led to extra demand of 17.4 million tonnes of domestic coal during April-September.

The Ministry of Power has issued guidelines on Friday for operationalizing optimum utilization of generating stations as per the requirements in the Electricity Grid.

These guidelines will enable imported coal based plants (having sufficient coal) to operate and ease out the burden on domestic coal, they added.

(With PTI Inputs)


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