A five-member delegation of the Punjab State Electricity Board’s engineers’ association met state power minister Harbhajan Singh ETO on Wednesday and suggested ways to improve the financial health of PSPCL and save ₹4,000 crore per annum.
The delegation led by its president Jasbir Dhiman and general secretary Ajaypal Singh Atwal explained that some long-term and short-term measures are needed to improve the working of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), the electricity generating and distributing company of the state government.
To start with, the power purchase agreements (PPAs) with private generators should be reviewed and modified to save unnecessary fixed and variable charges.
The association claimed that Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo thermal plants are paying higher capacity charges as compared to other power projects, causing a loss of ₹28, 672 crore to the state exchequer over the 25-year term of PPAs. They demanded that responsibility be fixed for forcing higher capacity charges on the state of Punjab. This serious lapse was not covered in the white paper issued in 2021, the association added.
It was further stated that a solar plant of 250MW capacity should be installed at the vacant space of Bathinda thermal plant.
Purchase cheap coal
Coal from Pachhwara mine should be used to produce cheap power at Lehra Mohabbat and Ropar thermal plants. This coal can also be used to replace the imported coal being used by private generators.
Renewable energy rates
The association stated that Punjab is buying 2,244 million units of renewable energy from generators within the state at a cost of Rs1,536 crore annually — an average rate of Rs.6.84 per unit against Solar Energy Corporation of India’s rate of Rs.2.83 per unit. The renewable energy power rates need to be brought down to ₹4.50 per unit, on the UP pattern.
Timely payments to avoid penalty charges
“There is a need to cleanse the power purchase and regulation organisation that is purchasing power worth Rs.23,000 crore. Punjab government should make timely and full payment of subsidy and this will help PSPCL make timely payments on account of power purchases and save on late payment charges, the engineers stated.
Check power theft
PSPCL should focus on the top 20 loss-making divisions, with active political and police help to check power theft. New power plants in place of Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat need to be executed in the state, keeping in mind the power requirement of future, the association members stated said while adding that staff crunch should also be addressed for better services.