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Snag deepens Odisha power crisis

Short-circuit

Bhubaneswar, June 24: Frequent snags in the two units of the Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) power plant at Jharsuguda are threatening to deepen the power crisis in Odisha.

Unable to generate adequate hydropower, the state heavily depends on these OPGC units apart from its share from central units and captive power plants of various industries to meet its needs.

Sources said Unit-I and II of OPGC, each with a capacity of 110MW, stopped operation last yesterday. While generation in Unit-II was restored this morning, officials were hoping for generation to restart in the other unit as well sometime late evening.

Energy minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said: “An expert team is looking into the reasons for frequent technical snags in the OPGC thermal units.”

Prior to this breakdown, both of the units had stopped operation on May 28 because of technical snags.

“Unit-I stopped operation because of problems in the conveyer belt and Unit-II stopped because of problems in the generator,” said OPGC spokesperson Dillip Panda hoping that the problem would be resolved soon.

However, Ramesh Sathpathy, a veteran union leader who has been working in the power sector for 40 years, said: “It is a wake-up call for the Odisha government, which has failed to take any initiative to enhance power production and expand the OPGC units.”

While the Odisha government controls 51 per cent share in the OPGC, the remaining 49 per cent is owned by the US-based AES Corporation.

The Odisha government’s plan to set up the third and fourth unit of the thermal power plant of the OPGC unit at Jharsuguda to add to its existing capacity remains a non-starter.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for its expansion, but the project is yet to take off and Odisha has failed to add any additional power to its existing capacity, said some union leaders working in the power sector.

While the state’s power requirement is pegged at around 3,300MW during the peak period, it can manage only around 2,700MW from different sources. Though the hydropower sources the state can generate 1,500MW, the average production of hydropower came down to 207MW today because of water shortage in most of the reservoirs.

At present, Odisha is meeting its power requirement from its central share, captive power plants and thermal power plants. However, this supply fluctuates from everyday depending on the availability of power.

“We are managing 2,700MW from different sources. Of this, Odisha is getting 550MW from independent power producers, captive power plants of various industries, 765MW from Ib Talcher, 950MW as central share and 25MW through power banking,” a Gridco official said.

In a desperate attempt to save the situation, the Odisha government has urged private players to provide surplus power from their captive power plants.

“Because of Odisha’s failure to add any power in the thermal sector, it now finds itself at the mercy of independent power producers and private industries with captive power plants of their own. They will dictate the terms in the coming days,” said a senior official of Odisha government.