Tamil Nadu’s power situation looks grim, with the coal stock in Tangedco’s thermal units declining to 3.5 days against the normal of 15 days.
On Monday, state Power Minister Senthil Balaji told reporters that the state has coal stock for 4 days, and daily, not less than 60,000 tonnes of coal are being received in various Tangedco thermal units and there is no worry about power shortage in the state.
Across the country, there is a huge coal storage and many states in the north are facing power cuts.
Tamil Nadu is managing with power generated from wind energy sources. The total demand has also seen a dip because of rainfall in many districts.
Chief Minister MK Stalin is expected to write a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging the Centre to release more coal supply for the state to prevent power cuts in the coming weeks.
“The coal stocks in the thermal units in Mettur, North Chennai and Tuticorin have declined as the supply from the coal mine is very less,” a senior Tangedco official said. “Each day we are getting 56,000–60,000 tonnes of coal through rail and that is what is helping us run the thermal units at almost full capacity.”
Saved by wind power
Apart from wind power, nuclear power units are also helping the state, the official said.
“We are getting not less than 1,000MW from the first and second units of Kudankulam Nuclear Project. This is really helping us to meet the demand which is around 13,000MW on an average,” the official said.
Sources in Tangedco said the thermal units in the state (with a capacity of 4320MW) are generating at almost full capacity. “The thermal units of Tangedco are generating not less than 60 to 70 million units of power daily. In terms of total power supply on a single day, nearly 25% of the total supply is from Tangedco thermal units,” said another senior Tangedco official.
The official also said that even private power producers are feeling the pinch of the coal shortage.
“We are not able to purchase power from private companies as these companies are also facing shortage of coal. We have a medium term agreement with a few private companies. If we ask for 1000MW, these companies are ready to provide only 400MW as they don’t have enough coal to generate power,” said the official.
The crisis seems to be due to rising prices of coal against limited supply.
“At present one tonne of coal in the international market is $250 and if we generate power using this coal, the cost per unit of generation will come to ₹12 per unit,” the official said, conceding that they have “more or less stopped importing coal now”.
However, the rate of power has gone up even more than that at the Electricity Exchange, where all the states are bidding.
“The cost in the Electricity Exchange is increasing each day and a few days back it touched ₹20 per unit. It is not possible to purchase power at this tariff,” the official said.
Tangedco officials are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that the situation will improve soon.