KARNATAKA

Work on BTPS to begin next month

Bangalore Nov. 10. Power from the 500 MW Bellary Thermal Power Station (BTPS) would cost Rs. 2.10 a unit or less than Rs. two a unit, the Managing Director of Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. (KPCL) K. Jothiramalingam, said here today.

After a function to hand over a letter of award of the engineering and procurement contract (EPC) for the Rs. 2,100-crore BTPS project to BHEL and the financial closure of Rs. 613 crore for the Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) unit seven, Mr. Jothiramalingam told presspersons that the BTPS tariff would be less than Rs. two if it got mega project status from the Union Ministry of Power.

He said the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, and other Chief Ministers had urged the Ministry of Power to give mega project status to 500 MW projects (like BTPS) instead of just 1000 MW projects. The status would help BTPS get exemption from 16 per cent excise duty and save Rs. 130 to Rs. 140 crore in project cost annually. "The Ministry of Power is actively considering the proposal," he said.

Work on the BTPS project would begin in December when KPCL gave a notice to BHEL to proceed. But tender conditions contained a Rs. 20-crore bonus clause if BHEL completed the project two months ahead of the scheduled 36 months, he said.

Coal supply

Mr. Jothiramalingam said KPCL had been allotted six blocks of the Western Coal Fields in Nagpur as a dedicated coal mine for BTPS which required two million tonnes of coal a year. The mine would provide 70 million tonnes of mineable reserves. This allotment had helped lower tariff by 30 to 40 paise a unit as compared to an earlier arrangement of a coal link with Talcher (Orissa), he said.

KPCL had formed a joint venture called Karnataka EMTA with a private concern, Bengal EMTA, to develop the mine. They would identify another site for coal when they decided to extend the project by 500 MW, he said.

Gas tenders for the Rs. 4,100-crore 1,400 MW Bidadi Combined Cycle Power Plant would be called for in two or three days. The project needed 1.5 million tonnes of gas a year and KPCL had already sought expressions of interest. Five firms had applied — Gas Authority of India Ltd., Petronet, BPCL, Korba IOL-Petronas (Malaysia) (for providing re-gasified liquid gas), and Reliance for natural gas. The tenders would be finalised by February and the EPC by March. Per unit cost would be between Rs. 2.20 and Rs. 2.30, or slightly lower or higher, he said.

Mr. Jothiramalingam said they had asked the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to re-examine the definition of `merit order dispatch' (involves buying least cost power). He said National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) power was preferred over KPCL's as NTPC power cost involved just fixed costs and not variable charges. But if both costs were considered, KPCL power would be much cheaper. "Tomorrow there is a CERC hearing and a KPCL representative will attend," he added.

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