The Congress on Monday accused the BJP government of helping private power producers benefit by cutting down the generation capacity of government power plants. It also asked the government to supply electricty to people at cheaper rates by meeting the power needs from state-run power units.
The Opposition party said that the government’s power expenditure bill has inflated as it has been purchasing power from private producers at a higher cost, while at the same time it has reduced the power generation capacity of its own power plants.
Quoting figures from an RTI reply, Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said that the state government paid Rs 70,715 crore to private power producers like Adani, Essar, Tata and China Light between 2002 and 2017, whereas plant load factor (PLF) — indicator of power generation capacity — of three state power plants dropped to 24.40 per cent by 2017.
“The plant load factor of three government power plants was 61.4 per cent in 1993-94, and they produced 4,345 MW of electricity. However, the PLF came down to 24.40 per cent in 2016-17 with the power generation capacity of the plants dropping to 2,500 MW only,” Doshi said, adding that in the same period the government’s bill of electricity purchased from private plants saw a steady increase.
In the last four years, he said, the state government bought power worth Rs 32,395 crore from private producers. Congress also accused the government of buying power from private producers at a higher rate. “In 2017, the BJP government signed two PPAs (power purchase agreements) with Adani Power to buy power at Rs 2.98 and Rs 2.35 per unit, but it paid the company at a rate of Rs 3.30 per unit and Rs 2.60 per unit — higher than agreed in the PPAs. Similarly, it agreed to buy from Essar (group) at a rate of Rs 2.40 per unit, but paid the company Rs 3.36 per unit. To the Tatas (power), the government paid Rs. 2.63 per unit as against Rs 2.26 per unit as agreed in the PPAs.
“If the generation capacity of the government power plants goes up, the government could supply power to people at lower rates, and this would help the middle class and the poor people from high electricity rates levied by the private companies,” Doshi added. Last October, the Supreme Court had extended a lifeline to the three troubled imported-coal-based power plants of Tata, Adani and Essar in Gujarat by allowing the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to amend their PPAs to facilitate pass-through of future fuel price escalation subject to a cap.
The three units, with a combined capacity of 9,940 MW, had reported accumulated losses of Rs 21,250 crore as on March 31, 2018.