Energy minister urges stressed units to restart operations to meet with stakeholders

With power demand hitting a record high in April and expected to be high in May-June, Union Energy Minister RK Singh has urged stakeholders of troubled power plants to take immediate action to exploit unused capacity.

As part of efforts to revive the stressed units, the minister on Monday met with stakeholders of such power plants in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chattisgarh. These units have a combined unused capacity of almost 10,000 megawatts (MW).

Companies such as Tata Power, Adani Power, Essar Power and RattanIndia among others attended the meeting along with their lenders and state discoms.

Coal-fired power stations imported from Gujarat also failed to operate at full capacity, particularly Tata Power’s 4,000 MW station in Mundra and Essar Power’s 1,200 MW station in Salaya, as states purchasers did not accept compensatory tariffs after these plants. became unsustainable after Indonesia benchmarked coal against the global index.

If these capacities come online, the majority of shortage problems could be solved in Punjab and Haryana, which are facing severe power shortages.

Similarly, RattanIndia’s 1,350 MW power station at Sinnar, near Nashik in Maharashtra, has been idle for four years. “It was suggested at the meeting that if the lenders led by PFC can provide the working capital loan, then the plant (RattanIndia) could be made operational,” said Maharashtra Energy Secretary Dinesh Waghmare. .

When contacted, a senior RattanIndia official said that these power plants can be revived in a sustainable way if a medium to long term PPA can be obtained through the Reverse Locked Capacity Auction where discoms submit bids. offers and the cost of fuel is a pass-through.

RattanIndia is in talks with lenders to overhaul its Rs 7,000 crore debt. The company is also in talks with Maharashtra Generation Company (Mahagenco) and a few other “reputable” investors for an equity stake in the asset. The company was seeking Rs 500 crore working capital and Rs 200 crore bank guarantee from its set of existing lenders to start up the Nashik plant and sign the power purchase agreement with the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDCL).

Ashok Khurana, Managing Director of the Association of Power Producers, said: “All unused capacity must be restarted. Growing demand and growing collection of GST are indicators of higher economic activity. It will only go up. If we have capacities where investments have been as high as Rs 7-8 crore per MW, they should be utilized instead of opting for new investments.

About 3,041 MW of imported coal-based capacity remained shut down last weekend, out of ICB’s total installed capacity of 20,296 MW. The average load factor of plants, even operational ICBs, is now around 25%, according to CEA data.

The power load factor (PLF) of the total installed thermal capacity of 203,347 MW as of April 30 was 66.7%.

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