Load-shedding is back in festive season

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 Oct 2018 08:10:15


Staff Reporter,

On the eve of Ghatsthapana, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) gave power shock to consumers on double front. First the bad news, the load-shedding has started as coal shortage has hit the thermal power units of MahaGenco as well as that of private power producers. On top of that with peak power rising, the consumers are finding that there is sudden spike in power bills as new regime of fixed charges and wheeling charges are now implemented. In short, the tall claims of little impact of hike in power charges was all hogwash, as consumers are feeling the increase in real terms and its biting is the unanimous verdict.

First on the load-shedding front, there is overall shortage of 650 MW owing to closure of number of units due to non availability of coal. This is quite shocking as Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule had made tall claims that State would not have to resort to load shedding. He even flashed news about his meeting with Union Coal Minister Piyush Goel and orders to coal companies to increase supply of coal to MahaGenco's units. But it seems the claims of that time on part of Bawankule was meant for public consumption, as on action front there is little change. Load shedding was undertaken in category in Marathwada and Western Maharashtra areas leading to public backlash.

RattanIndia Power Limited four units are shut down owing to non availability of coal leading to drastic fall in generation and hence from contracted 1200 MW only 270 MW is being fed in the grid. The plant is located in Amravati district. Mahavitaran had contracted for 55545 MW of power from private producers but they are able to supply only 3798 MW.

To add to woes of Mahavitaran, the spot rate in Central Power Exchange too has peaked on back of sudden increase in demand due to October heat. Also the demand from agriculture consumer also increased during the same period which makes the power management quite a hectic task. On top of that poor coal output from Coal India companies has hit the production hard.

The writing was on wall but the flawed policies of the State Government which banned import of coal led to the current crisis, feels the experts. It was well known that Coal India is not in position to meet the ever growing demands of thermal power units in country. In Maharashtra alone, Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) has failed to increase its output significantly and yet State's Energy Department took long time in opting for coal import which would take long time to materialise. Hence till the coal supply position normalises the load shedding is there to stay, unless rates in power exchange rationalise.

Power Bills Rise: The rise in fixed charges and also loading of wheeling charges and other duties the power bills are inflated, said the consumers. In reality as claimed by Pratap Hogade, President, Maharashtra Electricity Consumers Association, the increase in power bills would be in range of 12 to 15 per cent, is now appearing to be true. After Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) approved MSEDCL petition for truing up of its account and allowed recovery of revenue shortfall, it was claimed increase in power charges are minimal and would not burden people.

But in reality while the households might have been saved a big blow, the commercial and heavy consumption units are worst hit, said the businessmen in State. The hike in charges are quite hefty and in times of inflation and low demand in market, the power bills are really breaking our back.