Tribune News Service
Patiala, July 21
From over 15,000 MW of peak demand, which the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) failed to meet almost 10 days back, the power demand has now dropped drastically to less than 7,000 MW. Punjab has already shut its state-owned thermal plant units as it is getting much cheaper power from the power exchange to meet its present demand of around 6,800 MW, following widespread rains.
With restrictions on all categories of industry and consumers already lifted, the state is ‘under-drawing’ power, which means it has more power and the demand is low. However, Punjab is still unable to sell its power as the rates of power in the central exchange are much cheaper. Rains in the past week have ensured the demand drops to less than 50 per cent within 10 days.
Last week, the maximum demand in the state touched over 15,500 MW while the PSPCL was able to supply only around 13,000 MW. “There are no power restrictions on any category since the past over a week and despite shutting our own thermal plant units, we have sufficient power with us. We are buying power at Rs 2 per unit, which is much cheaper,” said CMD PSPCL A Venu Prasad. “Almost 10 days back, the PSPCL had to buy power at over Rs 12 per unit to meet the demand,” he said.
Interestingly, despite having surplus power now, the PSPCL is still unable to sell power in the exchange corridor as the rates of power produced in Punjab are much higher than the rates at which it is available in the exchange. While the state has its own generation of about 5,500 MW from various sources, including solar, it can import a maximum of 7,300 MW from the northern grid, with some temporary relief to draw more.
A former chief engineer with the PSPCL said, “There are lessons to be learnt from this paddy season and the PSPCL needs to improve its infrastructure to get additional power from the national grid. It should review the private purchase agreements, which have failed to ensure uninterrupted power when we faced peak demand.”
Punjab witnessed an all-time high power demand this paddy season. Due to a prolonged dry spell, increase in demand of power from the agricultural sector, reduced availability due to low reservoir levels/reduced generation from hydropower stations and outage of units at private thermal plants, the state faced power cuts.