Public sector power producer NTPC has decided to put power stations operating at lower cost to optimum use, keeping the power plants operating at comparatively higher cost at reserve shutdown. This could help ailing discoms in getting power at rates a little above Rs 3 at a time when they are trying to buy spot power at rates below Rs 3. Half of NTPC’s 4.4 gigawatt of thermal capacity produce power at below Rs 3.
While the power ministry is exerting pressure on the coal ministry to relax fuel and regulatory issues, the PSU power producer wants to operate its pit head plants at higher plant load factor, keeping the plants away from pit heads at reserve shutdown. NTPC felt that, even though the demand for power has increased by 12%, this can be done if pit head plants are operated at near 100% capacity instead of the general 70-75%.
The power ministry is of the view that all power-producing units should be given access to coal to which plants, which have no PPAs or with partial PPAs, can depress coal prices. Ashok Khurana, director general of the Association of Power Producers, clarified that if restrictions were removed from coal offtake and distressed power units given access to coal, they were willing to sell power at Rs 3.50 per unit rather than the NTPC, which was forcing to buy power at Rs 5.84 per unit. Power prices could have been market-driven, he said.