In a bid to decongest the streets of the national capital, the Delhi government has decided to permanently shut the two highly-polluting coal-based power plants in Rajghat and Badarpur. But can Delhi’s power distribution companies cope with the shut down of the two plants and disrupting the electricity supply? Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Praveer Sinha, MD and CEO of Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL), says consumption of power in Delhi goes down drastically in winters and the two plants proposed to be shut being old ones, are no longer efficient. The capital has enough power capacity to meet the power requirements and the company will ensure 100 percent power supply even after plants shut down, he adds. On the renewable energy initiatives, he says the company has tied up for 240 megawatt of solar power and will add 400 mw of rooftop solar in next 5 years.
Below is the transcript of Praveer Sinha’s interview with Shereen Bhan on CNBC-TV18.
Q: I have just looked at the notification that has been issued by the Delhi government and it is not just Badarpur, they say that all thermal power plants are being sent notices and have been asked to shut down within the next seven days. If my understanding is correct, then Rajghat which is one of the thermal power plants that has already been closed since May 15, even as far as Badarpur and Dadri are concerned, these plants are not running at full capacity. In fact they are running significantly lower than their current capacity. So, if these plants were to close down, will it mean significant supply disruption for Delhi?
A: What happens typically in winter, the consumption of power goes down drastically. Just to give you an idea, in summer we have a peak of about 6,000 megawatt and winter it comes down to nearly 3,200 megawatt. So, the requirement of power itself goes down quite low and because of that reason whatever plans are there to shut down some of the thermal power plants such as Rajghat which is not operating for quite some time and also Badarpur which is operating at a very low capacity. Against its capacity of nearly 700 megawatt, it is operating around 150 megawatt. So those plants can be shut down during this period especially when we are having huge issues about pollution. Also, these plants are a little old plants, they are not very efficient plants, they have very high cost also and to that extent also, it would be beneficial to the consumers of Delhi that the cost of power procurement will come down.
Q: So, do you actually welcome the move of the Delhi government to order the shutdown of these plants?
A: Absolutely, in fact, we have been taking up with both the union government and also the state government that during the winter months, typically from October to March, the consumption comes down and it would bring fitness of things that these plants are shut down during this period and Delhi can meet its power requirement from the other sources. And also, if there is a shortage during any hour, then one can go and purchase that power on a day ahead basis through the exchange. Also, there is a mechanism whereby through banking arrangement we get some power. So, in all, I can tell you that we have enough power capacity in Delhi to meet the requirements of the consumers and we will ensure that 100 percent supply is ensured to them.
Q: What are the alternatives that discoms like you can now exercise or leverage to try and bring down pollution. There is a lot of talk about renewables, rooftop solar and so on and so forth. What can we realistically expect?
A: We have already gone ahead and tied up nearly 240Mmegawatt of solar plants and these are solar power which is coming from other places. In addition to that, we have a very ambitious plan to add nearly 400 megawatt of rooftop solar primarily for industrial and commercial consumers in next five years and we are encouraging all our industrial and commercial consumers to go for rooftop solar and they are economically viable especially with the net metering policy that the regulatory commission has come up and we typically feel the challenge in New Delhi is how to meet the peak requirement and peak comes during summer months when the sun is there and solar power can play a very important role in meeting the peak requirement for a city like New Delhi.
Q: What would be the difference as far as the cost of power is concerned when we are talking about rooftop solar?
A: Rooftop solar typically is intermittent power, it is a little expensive still because on rooftop you typically get very small units which will come up, and that would cost about Rs 8-9, but that is the tariff which is being charged to the consumers of industries and commercial consumers. So if we do a netting-off, they are better in that scenario and we feel definitely that rooftop solar the way the prices are coming down in recent months, it would be becoming very viable and it is something which is long term solution for meeting the pollution challenge.