Power producers feel the minimum penalty clause is too less

Even as the power producers and the Coal India Limited (CIL) continue their arguments over the finetuning of the fuel supply agreements (FSAs), country's thermal power stations are battling with dwindling coal stocks with 28 stations left with hardly seven days of coal supplies.

According to the latest data released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), on an average, 28 power stations faced critical fuel supply position from May 1 to 20. The situation was worse on May 9 and May 10, when 31 power stations were left with less than seven-days stock. Power generation from the Mahatma Gandhi thermal power station at Jhajjar in Haryana stopped on May 7 due to non-availability of coal. The plant still remains shut on account of shortage of fuel, the data show.

Various power generation companies have refused to sign FSAs with CIL as they felt that the minimum penalty clause was too less and would not serve the purpose. Of the 28 stations, 14, on an average, suffered acute coal shortage of less than four days on account of either less receipt of fuel or inadequate coal allocation. Ironically, power generation on May 20, was 2.82 per cent higher than projected, as per the official data.

Power generation is calculated keeping all the sources — coal, gas, hydro and wind — in mind. The country's peak power deficit — shortfall in generation capacity during the time when the electricity consumption is the maximum — touched 10,876 MW in April, according to the official data.

Data compiled by the CEA showed that total power generation capacity was just 1,17,124 MW last month, whereas the demand was pegged at 1,28,000 MW. The situation at the thermal plants, which account for majority of electricity produced in India, is likely to remain the same during the current month as well. The Power Ministry expects to generate around 9,20,000 MUs (million units) of electricity this fiscal.

Out of the total, 7,60,000 MUs would be from coal-based plants. The government might also import 5,000 MUs of electricity from Bhutan.

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