UP Energy Watchdog Questions Imported Coal Efficacy

Whistle blower Power Engineers Federation says coal crisis loom large once again after October 2021

By VIRENDRA SINGH RAWAT

LUCKNOW, Apr 20 (The CONNECT) – The power crisis in the country could exacerbate owing to the low coal stock even as doubts have been raised over the efficacy of imported coal for the old thermal plants.

Uttar Pradesh energy watchdog has questioned the proposal of the state power generation utility, UP Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam (UPRVUN), to import coal for its thermal power plants due to depleting fuel inventory.

UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) secretary Sanjay Kumar Singh has notified the Nigam chairman seeking an immediate response to whether the imported coal, which has high GCV (gross calorific value), could be used in the old and depreciated units with lower GCV range for operations.

He has also sought to know if the beneficiary consent was taken in advance for procuring imported coal; and why only the UPRVUL was importing coal and not the other power generation companies in the state.

The regulator has cited media reports as well as a letter written by the UP power consumers’ forum president, Avadhesh Kumar Verma, regarding to the proposal of UPRVUN to proceed with the notice inviting tender (NIT) for imported coal.

The watchdog has asked for details regarding power being supplied to the UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) against the target generation over last one month; and whether there was any hindrance on account of coal shortage.

The regulator has referred to the clause 23(4)(1) of UPERC Generation Tariff Regulations 2019 that says, “provided that procurement of fuel at a price other than government notified prices, may be considered, if it is based on competitive bidding through transparent process.”

“Therefore, in this regard, I am directed to seek the following clarification: (d) whether there is shortage of administered priced coal? If yes, then whether the shortage is at the coal mine end or due to rail wagon availability for coal transportation? (e) If shortage is due to wagon availability for transportation, then how these transportation constraints (availability of railway wagons from port to power plant) would be mitigated in case of imported coal, while such steps are not working in case of domestic coal?”

“Has Discom’s load forecast/peak demand for coming months and domestic/linkage coal availability been considered as this may affect the MoD of imported coal-based generation of UPRVUN?,” the UPERC letter dated April 18 read.

In UP, the daily power demand has already breached 21,000 mw while the supply is around 19,000 mw to 20,000 mw.

According to All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) chairman Shailendra Dubey, the power crisis could exacerbate owing to the low coal stock to fire thermal power units in the country.

“The coal crisis is being witnessed in 12 Indian states once again after October 2021,” he said on Sunday. He had claimed that to supply coal to the thermal power stations, 453 wagons are required whereas only 379 wagons were available in the first week of April. This number has now increased to 415.

Although UP is not facing any serious coal crisis, yet the UPRVUN plants have coal stock to the level of 26 percent compared to standard norm, Dubey added. Against the total requisite coal inventory of 1.97 million tonnes in all the four thermal power projects of the Nigam, the existing stock is to the tune of 511,700 tonnes.