Acute coal crisis in Maharashtra may lead to power shortage like last year

Acute coal crisis in Maharashtra may lead to power shortage like last year

An acute coal shortage in Maharashtra has yet again brought back fears of power shortage in the state. With most power plants running on less than 10 days’ stock, the state energy department is staring at a possibility of load shedding, much like last year.

As of last September 27, 14 out of the 15 thermal power plants in Maharashtra are running on coal stocks that will last less than 10 days. Six of them are running on supercritical coal stocks, (less than four days’ stock), according to the data from the Central Electricity Authority. This means that if coal supplies were to stop for any reason (a 24-hour breakdown in supply), the stock in 14 of these plants will run out in less than 10 days. The Amravati, Bhusawal and Parli power plants, owned by the Maharashtra State Electricity Generation Company (Mahagenco), are running on merely a day’s stock.

The coal stocks are considerably lower than the mandate by Central Electricity Authority of India of maintaining 25 to 30 days’ coal stock at thermal power plants. Meanwhile, with rainfall receding, power demand has soared over the past few weeks across the state. As on Tuesday, the peak demand was around 21,692 MW, of which the state generation apparatus was meeting only around 12,800 MW. The rest is being purchased from the central power exchange, said sources in the energy department.

“Usually, temperatures rise between mid-October and mid-November. However, this year the temperatures started to rise in September and the demand has increased suddenly. The coal stocks are low and we are doing our best to keep the situation under control,” said a senior official from the state energy department. Earlier, the department had saved water in Koyna for such times to compensate with hydro generation.

For over a year now, the state has been reeling under an acute coal shortage. In 2017, power demand in the state grew after almost a two-year slump. Unprepared, the state distribution company had sold surplus power to neighbouring states, resulting in shortage within Maharashtra. Between May and September 2017, several parts of the state experienced widespread load-shedding.