NAGPUR: Shortage of coal in various plants, providing power to MSEDCL, and wet coal problem in 2011 will prove costly for power consumers this year. MSEDCL had purchased electricity from the two power exchanges to make up for the reduction in generation in Mahagenco and NTPC plants. The cost of this power was higher than that produced by the regular sources. The extra burden will be passed on to consumers.
Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has conditionally approved its demand to recover the additional amount and stating that it would examine the power purchases before clearing them.
MSEDCL had filed a petition in February stating that the short term power purchases of MERC had to be relaxed for 2011-12 due to sharp decline in power availability from regular sources. The power distributor has cited eight reasons for this.
Some of them are related to coal shortage. There was unprecedented coal shortage in September affecting all plants. Generation of Chandrapur, Khaparkheda and Paras plants was affected for some months as flooding of mines in Orissa caused coal shortage. Parli and Vindhyachal (NTPC) generation reduced as they got less coal from Singareni mines in Telangana. Wet coal reduced generation of Genco plants.
There were some other reasons for reduced power availability. A unit in JSW plant (Jaigad) broke down for 28 days in May 2011 and 20 days in August. Dabhol plant generation went down due to gas shortage and production of Korba plant (NTPC) went down due to ash dyke problem.
The company contended that due to these unforeseen problems, its demand-availability calculations went haywire and it had resort to load shedding in several parts of the state. This led to widespread public protests and MSEDCL had to purchase electricity from exchanges and by floating tenders for short term power purchase. MSEDCL started this April 2011 onwards.
While these arguments are logical, one of contentions of MSEDCL show both the distributor and regulator in poor light. MSEDCL has pointed out that as per norms short-term power purchase does not require MERC approval, provided it is not more than 5% in quantum or cost. Since MERC had not determined the power purchase plan for 2011-12, the 5% limit was not applicable.
MERC has directed MSEDCL to amend the tariff petition for 2012-13 and include these issues in it. The transactions would be vetted while determining the tariff for this fiscal.