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Snags prompt record power purchase

Technical snags and problems in coal supply forced the state to buy record power from the open market for two consecutive days, including 1,100MW on Tuesday.

The Bihar State Power (Holding) Company usually purchases 500-600MW from the open market. But on Tuesday and Wednesday, the firm purchased 1,100MW and 850MW, respectively, to tide over the power supply problem. The problem arose after four units of the NTPC and the 110MW unit in Muzaffarpur stopped generation because of technical reasons, apart from faced with coal shortage.

The NTPC’s units at Kahalgaon (unit II of 210MW and unit VI of 500MW), Talcher (unit II of 500MW) and Farakka (unit IV of 500MW) stopped generation because of technical reasons late on Monday night. Among the reasons, there was a tube leak at the Talcher plant. The power company was forced to go in for a record purchase of 1,100MW on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it bought 850MW after the two NTPC units restarted.

On June 27, the power company got a reduced allocation of 1,750MW (against the average of 2,200 to 2,400MW) because generation came to a halt at three units of NTPC-Farakka.

The NTPC’s Talcher and Farakka units have started generation, said the power company’s deputy general manager (public relations), H.R. Pandey.

He added that the Kahalgaon’s unit II has been shut for annual maintenance for quite some time while coal shortage stopped generation at Kahalgaon unit VI.

He told The Telegraph that the lone 110MW plant at Muzaffarpur — jointly owned by the power holding company and NTPC — is likely to start generation either from Thursday or Friday. The plant had been shut since Tuesday because of coal supply problems.

The Muzaffarpur plant had started generation in November 2013, after almost a decade, once renovation and modernisation work was completed at the facility.

Pandey said: “On Wednesday, there was no problem in Patna on the front of power supply because of two reasons. First, two of the four NTPC units started generation and second, the power supply demand has come down thanks to the overcast weather conditions. We made up the loss by purchasing power from the open market. The state received 1,425MW from the central sector and 650MW from the open market till 6pm. In all likelihood, we would purchase an additional 200MW from the open market to meet our energy requirements.”

Cloudy skies have reduced the power demand in Patna to 400 to 450MW.

Sources in the power holding company said this was a record power purchase for Bihar to meet its energy requirements. The state has never purchased power on such a big scale, the sources said, adding that the company has been purchasing, on an average, 500 to 600MW from the open market.

The state’s peak demand is around 3,000MW against which it gets 2,300MW. This is sufficient to meet the energy requirements, especially when cloudy skies and rain bring down the temperature like in the past three days.

The sources added that although people in different cities and towns have been experiencing load-shedding for three to five hours on the average, the power cuts of more than five hours is because of technical faults in the distribution network.