Saturday, December 10, 2022

Power cuts in AP due to lack of foresight

  • Coal reserves not built
  • Power purchase from market not arranged
  • Discoms in deep debt, starved of funds
  • Students sitting for exams worst sufferers due to power cuts

As the AP State is experiencing severe power shortage, AP Transco declared restrictions and control measures (R&C measures) to the industry from 7.4.2022 onwards, to protect the crops and to ensure continuous supply to the domestic consumers. The exam season has started, and students are the worst sufferers. In the context of state enjoying a surplus situation (barring few shortages in 2014 & 2015 due to non-availability of coal) and augmenting sufficient capacities in the later periods, it is surprising to have severe power shortages. Let us find out what led to this kind of precarious situation.

Thermal plants working without rest

After state bi-furcation, AP state is having the installed capacity of 3410 MW thermal, 1798MW Hydro, 2MW wind, 59MW gas, 1796MW Central Generating stations, 2330MW of private power, 3000MW non-conventional power (Wind, Solar, Mini Hydro, Biomass, etc.). There was a dispute between AP and Telangana on allocation of power between the states. AP government has taken a stand that the projects being operated by APGENCO and located in AP state shall be allocated to AP only. By this way, the AP would get additional power of about 400MW, but must bear more price for the generated power. APGENCO could complete the on-going projects at Krishnapatnam Thermal power station and Rayalaseema Thermal Station. Two units of 800MW each (total -1600MW) in Krishnapatnam were commissioned in 2015 and 600 MW unit of RTPS was commissioned in 2018. On hydro side, the Nagarjuna Sagar Tail Pond project having 50 MW capacity was commissioned in 2019. On private sector, many solar and wind projects have been commissioned and the NCE capacity has gone up to 8,000MW. In addition, there were some captive solar & wind projects commissioned in the state by the industries due to the favorable policies of GoAP.

The on-going works of 800MW units, one each at Vijayawada TPS and Krishnapatnam TPS, were expected to be completed by 2019 end. It may take a couple of years more for their completion.  Similar is the case with Polavaram Hydro project which was planned to be completed by 2022. It may take another 3-4 years for its completion, considering the present pace of works.

AP state is now enjoying total installed capacity of 18,900 MW as follows:

Sl. No.Stations/CategoryCapacity
1APGENCO – Thermal5010
2APGENCO – Hydel1848
3Central Generating stations -Thermal2300
4Gas – Old240
5Gas – New700
6NCE7000
7Other Private Thermal (Hinduja, Simhapuri, Thermal power tech)1800
8TOTAL18,898

We are aware that the thermal stations can run round the clock provided coal could be arranged. These stations are generally taken out of service for overhauls during rainy season when the grid demand is low. APGENCO power stations are having record of running continuously more than a year on many occasions, even without an hour of interruption. However, for practical considerations and calculation purposes, we can consider 90% of thermal capacity is available in service during this peak summer months. Thus, out of the total 9110 MW thermal capacity, we can expect at least 8500 MW capacity availability round the clock. This capacity could generate 204MU/day (8500x1000x24/1000000).

2 major hydro power complexes

The Hydro stations would run only when the water is available in the dams. The planners generally plan to store water for summer, particularly to meet the peak demand in the morning and evening hours. APGENCO is having two major hydro power complexes, one at Srisailam and another at Sirelu. Silerucomplex is known as the lifeline for the state grid since water is available continuously and never dried up. This complex usually generates 7-8MU every day, particularly to meet the peak demand. We can expect only 2-3 MU from Srisailam complex and other hydro stations.

APGENCO in deep financial problems

The old gas stations are being run at 40-45% PLF due to shortage of gas. We can expect 2.5MU/day (240*24000*40%/1000000) from these stations. The new gas stations are not running for want of gas allocation. Out of 7000MW NCE projects, the solar plant capacity is about 2400MW. As we are aware that these projects would run only when the Sun is available, the production can be expected at 5.5Units/day/kW in the summer months. Therefore, we can expect a total of 13 MU/day (2400*5.5*1000/1000000) from Solar projects. The wind projects capacity is around 2900MW. However, the wind season has not commenced fully. We therefore cannot expect full capacity up to April. The present generation is around 700MW-800MW. Thus, we can expect 16.8 MU/day (700*24000/1000000) at present. Therefore, we can reliably get 242.3 MU/day from all the sources.

Requirement expected to go up

AP state grid has been recording requirement of 220-235MU per day from March onwards. This maximum requirement is expected to go up to April every year due to Rabi season. Thereafter, from May onwards, the agriculture requirement falls and at the same time, the wind power availability increases and hence the power availability is more reliable. Thus, there seems to be no shortage. BUT lack of foresight and planning has led to this kind of situation.

We can also see from the Tariff order 2022-23 (page-56), which was issued based on the Discom’s estimations/projections done in November 2021, that the shortage of energy @20 MU/day in April is expected. DISCOMS might have taken permission from APERC much earlier and initiated measures for procurement in the market. Unfortunately, this was not done. Due to huge pending dues from Government of AP to the order of Rs.39,000 Cr, the Discoms are unable to procure power from the open market, and are unable to pay to APGENCO, which in turn is unable to procure and stock the coal. It is a known fact that the coal shall be procured more than the requirement during Aug-Nov to pile up for at least 30 days, so that the requirement of summer months can be easily met. All this shows there was complete planning failure on the administration of power sector. The grid management also seems to be ineffective and inefficient.

Dr B. Sarangapani
Dr B. Sarangapani
Dr B. Sarangapani was a former Professor of Economics. He is a policy analyst.

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