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Demand management: New Feb-Jun coal stock norms for power units

Many states including Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were forced to impose load shedding in October as some thermal power plants ran out of coal leading to inadequate power supply.

Power Minister RK Singh said an inter-ministerial panel has be set up to finalise coal demand in advance. (File)

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has revised coal stocking norms at thermal power generation plants with an aim to prevent a repeat of the low coal stock situation at various plants in October.

Many states including Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were forced to impose load shedding in October as some thermal power plants ran out of coal leading to inadequate power supply. A sharp uptick in demand, a rise in the price of imported coal, and low coal procurement by power stations prior to the monsoon contributed to the low stock situation.

“Revised coal stocking norms have been mandated by CEA mandating the coal stock of 17 days at pit head stations and 26 days at non-pit head stations to be maintained by power plants from February to June every year,” Power Minister RK Singh had said in a written reply to Parliament.

The CEA had previously required thermal power generators to hold 15-30 days of coal stock based on the distance of the plant from the source of coal. However, coal stocks at 164 thermal power plants monitored daily fell to an average of 4 days worth of coal stock in October with about 11 giga watt (GW) of thermal power capacity facing outages due to low coal stocks. These 164 plants currently have about 10 days worth of coal stock. Experts have called for stricter enforcement of coal stocking norms by the CEA.

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The low coal stock situation had forced a number of states to purchase power on the energy exchange, bidding up the average market clearing price of power to Rs 16.4 per unit on October 12.

Singh also said an inter-ministerial committee comprising of the secretaries of the ministries of coal, power and environment as well as the Chairman of the Railway Board had been set up to finalise the demand for coal in advance, and take corrective action to ensure adequate coal supply to power plants in the country.

First published on: 09-12-2021 at 04:45 IST
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