Shortage of coal at Jindal Tamnar Thermal Station, Chhattisgarh, and Jhabua Thermal Station, Madhya Pradesh, has hit power supply in Kerala. Adding to the woes of Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), a technical snag at the Moozhiyar power house of its own Sabarigiri Hydel Station did its bit in snapping blackouts in various parts of the state this week. However, KSEB doesnot prefer to call it “load-shedding”. According to a release from the board, “there would be curbs in electricity supply, till the power from Jindal and Jhambua are restored”. It was only last week that Kerala power minister MM Mani made a promise that there would be no loadshedding during summer this time, because sufficient supply arrangements have been made with IPPs (Independent Power Producers) outside the State.
Sources in KSEB told FE that there is shortage of about 300 MW in the power brought through long-term PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) because of the coal shortage. Meanwhile the technical issues at Moozhiyar power house are getting sorted out. “What helped was that the daily power consumption did not escalate as feared, all thanks to unexpected summer rains this week,” says a senior official. “At the same time, we have been negotiating to get 100 MW from the “day ahead” market at fair price, but this is yet to see light.”
Besides dipping into its own hydel power, KSEB buys power through three routes – through MoUs with power utilities, through bidding and then the emergency purchases. Thermal stations within Kerala like Kayamkulam NTPC (currently idling) demand Rs 7 per unit, while those in the north can supply power at Rs 4 to Rs 4.5 per unit. About 750 MW of KSEB’s power purchase is through bidding and as much as 450 MW through MoUs.
Supply contracts, stretching comfortably to as far ahead as 2040, with Jindal Power (Chattisgarh), Balco (Chattisgarh), Jhabua Power Limited (Madhya Pradesh), and Jindal India Thermal Power Limted (Odisha) are its mainstay. This is why the coal availability in these thermal plants have been vital to lighting up Kerala in the South. In desperation, the Kerala government is even considering bidding for its share of coal block through the Ministry of Coal, tying up with Jindal or Balco as the end user.
While Coal India maintains that there is no shortage of coal, early this month, Indian Captive Power Producers Association (ICCPA) had been complaining against NTPC supply pact with Bangaladesh that could use up the coal earmarked for Indian consumers. Out of the 40,000 MW generating capacity of Captive Power Producers in India, as much as 30,000 MW is produced out of coal.