Tamil Nadu

Precarious power situation continues

As thermal power stations shut down, T.N. gets Centre to despatch coal immediately; plans import too

Over the weekend, two units of the Mettur Thermal Power Station were shut down, affecting production of 420 MW (210 MW) each.

This despite Electricity Minister P. Thangamani stating that the station had three days of coal and Thoothukudi had six days of stock to run the power stations.

A government that was boasting of “surplus power” has suddenly been jolted and found wanting in managing the power situation this September.

After last week’s load shedding as a result of a combination of factors like low coal stock, the sudden drop in wind power and Central thermal stations shut for maintenance, the State government is barely managing the situation in the State.

Centre’s steps

When there is a talk that the inadequate coal stock could lead to shutdown of most plants and return of load shedding that haunted the State about a decade ago, the Chief Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister seeking urgent coal supply seems to have worked, at least for now.

After receiving the letter, the Union Power Ministry conducted a high-level meeting and sanctioned 10 rakes (each rake with 3,750 tonnes) of coal to the State.

The Union Power Ministry promised to despatch 13 rakes in the next few days, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) sources said. The requirement, though, is 72,000 tonnes per day and when the wind power becomes negligible in a week or a fortnight, the situation could turn grim again.

A power expert said signs of inadequate stock were experienced by Tangedco officials in May, but the government failed to put pressure on the Centre to get stock of coal for a minimum of 20 to 30 days.

“Tangedco officials had failed to read the future demand, leading to the bad situation. Dwindling of coal stock does not happen within a day or two; the officials of the Electricity department should have taken precautionary measures well in advance,” the expert said.

Power managers, however, claim shortage of coal was only a temporary phenomenon, adding that even Central generating thermal stations were facing shortage.

Tenders had been issued for purchasing six lakh tonnes imported coal for the Tuticorin thermal power plants. Advanced negotiations were being held to finalise the awarding of contract for Mettur thermal plants, Tangedco officials said.

PMK’s charge

Meanwhile, Pattali Makkal Katchi founder Dr. S. Ramadoss charged that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government’s only achievement in power generation was beginning work on the 660 MW Ennore power station, while it put in cold storage 16,960 MW of thermal power projects.

Mr. Ramadoss alleged that the State government was keen on purchasing power from private producers.

Already, there was a talk in the power sector that the government could go back to the “high cost” power purchase in the guise of shortage of coal supply.

But according to highly placed sources in the State’s Energy Department, “The government has already been cautioned not to go for high cost power as it could lead to a loss of ₹1,000 crore in one year.”

(With inputs from Syed Muthahar Saqaf)

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 9:44:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/precarious-power-situation-continues/article24963049.ece

Next Story