power cuts: PMO steps in after many states report alarmingly low coal stocks
The PMO has swung into action after several states reported alarmingly low coal stocks and some resorted to load-shedding.
On Monday, home minister Amit Shah held an hour-long meeting with power minister RK Singh and coal minister Pralhad Joshi on the availability of coal for power plants and the current electricity demand, said people aware of the deliberations.
Coal India said supplies to power utilities have been scaled up to 1.51 million tonnes per day and are expected to increase further after Durga Puja ends on Friday.
A prolonged monsoon that made mining difficult, high power demand and record coal import prices rendering plants unviable have all contributed to the situation.
Peak Demand Met on October 8
Supply has been squeezed as demand rose. Peak power demand met, or the most electricity supplied in a day, touched 172.41 GW on October 8, according to government data. This is expected to moderate as winter approaches and the weather cools.
Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are resorting to load-shedding but expect the situation to improve in the next three days, according to officials. Tamil Nadu and Odisha said they have comfortable stock positions and do not face any crisis.
Delhi power minister Satyendar Jain said most plants supplying electricity to the National Capital are left with two to three days of coal stock. However, the Union power minister on Sunday slammed Tata Power Delhi Distribution for spreading panic by sending messages to consumers to use electricity judiciously from 2-6 pm.
The power scarcity has pushed up the average spot price on exchanges to ₹16.5 per unit, from ₹4.4 in September. Spot tariff peaked to the maximum allowed, ₹20 per unit, during most hours in the evening. Union power secretary Alok Kumar said energy shortages are below 1%.
A central government official said the coal crunch is acute in states such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, which have defaulted on payments to coal companies. Coal India’s receivables from power generation companies are estimated at ₹18,000 crore.
Andhra Pradesh energy secretary N Srikanth told ET he has asked power consumers to refrain from using the AC in the evening, when demand peaks. Srikanth said power demand in Andhra Pradesh is 20% more than in 2019.
The state is facing a liquidity crunch since power prices on the spot exchange have tripled from a month ago, he said.
Rajasthan additional chief secretary of energy Subodh Agarwal said the state has been resorting to rotational feeder load-shedding as power availability was 9.3 GW against demand of 10.7 GW. Rajasthan also sent messages to consumers asking them to conserve energy.
Maharashtra resorted to power cuts or load-shedding as 13 power units supplying to it have shut due to the coal shortage. A senior official in Punjab said three to six hours of power cuts are being imposed across regions. Coal supplies to the state are at 12 million tonnes (mt), against a requirement of 22 mt.