Coal shortage, coupled with rising demand, has forced the Energy Department to tap into hydel sources, but that might lead to a tougher summer.
The other options are buying additional power or load-shedding. With the state going to the polls next year, the second option is ruled out. The department is already purchasing 900 MW a day until March. If it goes for further purchase, the burden on the exchequer will be substantial.
As a result, the department has turned to drawing an average of 15 million units (MU) from the three major hydel stations, as against the stipulated 10 MU. According to officials in the State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC), Chief Secretary Subhash Chandra Khuntia had directed the department not to draw more than 10 MU from hydel stations.
But after the Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL) downgraded its supply from the thermal stations, the department made it clear to the government that drawing power from hydel stations is inevitable.
The KPCL recently downgraded its supply by 500 MW a day. But it is still not meeting its revised target, according to SDCL officials.
For example, the KPCL has committed to supplying 1,100 MW from the Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) until January. But it is supplying just 800 MW to 1,000 MW, which has affected power supply during peak hours.
Out of the 900 MW being purchased, the SLDC gets just 800 MW, officials said.
“The demand is increasing by the day, and without thermal support, things will get difficult. If we restrict the usage to 10 MU, we will be forced to go for load shedding. That’s why we have sought permission to use up to 15 MU on average. If we start drawing anything over and above this, things will become difficult in the summer,” an official said.
The SLDC has resorted to drawing power from hydel stations in the evenings as it is able to meet the demand during the day by drawing power from other sources such as solar (300 MW to 400 MW).
Officials, however, said relying entirely on solar or wind sources was ill-advised as the quantum of power generated on a daily basis was uncertain.
KPCL managing director G Kumar Naik, however, maintained that the situation was not as grim. “The coal problem that we faced a few weeks ago has slightly eased,” he added.
The coal supply has, however, taken a hit yet again, with Singareni Collieries Company Ltd not meeting its commitment owing to heavy rainfall in mining areas. In addition, three units of the RTPS are down. While two are undergoing an overhaul, one has developed technical glitches.