UDUPI: Two coal-based thermal power plants of Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL), each of 600MW capacity, have been shut for over two months, as coal could not be imported. Four power distribution companies — Escoms -- have not paid dues running into Rs 2,671 crore.
The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has already ordered the Escoms to pay up. While Hescom dues total Rs 1,385 crore, Gescom follows with Rs 563 crore, and CESC, Mysuru, with Rs 499 crore. Bescom has dues of Rs 224 crore and Mescom Rs 17 crore.
Sources said though there is sufficient supply of hydro electricity due to abundant rain, the coming months could pose a different challenge, and the government may look at thermal power. Though the Union government is pushing for ‘Atmanirbharta’, UPCL is located in an environmentally sensitive zone, and has the mandate to use only imported coal. This high calorific value coal from countries like Australia, Indonesia and South Africa, costs $185 per tonne.
If domestic coal is used, it can blend only 20% to ensure emission does not cross the stipulated level, sources said. Hescom’s dues are the biggest reason for shutting down UPCL operations. Bescom gets 50% of the total power generated, and Hescom gets 30%. ‘’If the government fails to realign the distribution pattern to ensure more power to Mescom, people of Udupi will end up in the dark,” sources in Mescom said. Kishore Alva, President and Executive Director of Adani UPCL, said coal will be imported soon, and power generation will begin in 15 days.