Captive power route can end Punes woes

Pune | Updated: Nov 14 2005, 06:06am hrs
If the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), western region, can pull it off, it will become a unique model of good public-private partnership in a critical area like power.

Corporate houses in Pune are offering a captive power solution that could, in the short-term, help Pune. The only hitch is that it will not be gratis. Consumers will have to pay for a life without power cuts.

Industry is willing to tap the huge captive power base, whi-ch they have created as back-up to meet their own needs, and use it to meet the shortfall. CII presented this proposal to Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) in May 2005. MERC held a public hearing on Saturday in Pune to let citizens, consumer organisations and NGOs have their say.

About 30 companies in the Pune circle are willing to generate and use captive power during specific peak periods. They have unutilised capacities in excess of 100 mw and will meet their needs through self-generation and not draw from Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL). As these HT consumers will not be consuming this energy, it will reduce the grid load and electricity could be distributed to other consumers.

But the cost of generating power through the captive route is more expensive. The additional costs that industry would incur will have to be reimbursed to avoid losses.

According to MSEDCL, Pune could face load-shedding of 180 mwh/day on a normal day, to 540 mwh/day in worst scenarios, which means a load-shedding of 90 mw. As per CII calculations, based on current fuel prices, the weighted average variable cost of generation works out to Rs 10.18/kwh while the average tariff for HT users is Rs 4.04/kwh. So the industry would have to be reimbursed the difference of Rs 6.14/kwh. For the consumer, it would mean a tariff of around 12.05 paise per unit to 37.50 paise/unit in worse situations.

The question that most consumer organisations are posing is whether citizens should be made to pay extra for the inefficiency of a state utility

Pradeep Bhargava, MD, Newage Electrical and chief architect of this project, says MSEB cannot pay as this will amount to special treatment to Pune city. This is a local solution but can be replicated in other parts of the state, says Bhargava. Clearly, since it the citizens wholl have to pay extra, the ball is now in the peoples court.