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Poor planning and technical failures hits state’s power generation

Maharashtra, which had become “power-surplus” two years ago, suddenly faces a deficit of 4,000 MW at the peak of summer leading to extensive power outage across the state especially in smaller cities and rural areas.

The state is currently generating around 12,500 MW electricity against the installed generation capacity of 33,500 MW, as per the latest figures obtained from The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (MahaGenCo).

The average demand is around 18,000 MW. This can easily be met even if 55 per cent of the total installed capacity is being utilised.

The massive power shortage has not only inconvenienced domestic consumers but also affected farmers badly.

The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) officials cite a sudden rise in demand and breakdown in three state-run generation with 1,120 MW capacity units for the acute shortage. This indicates poor planning skills and preparedness of MahaGenCo, the state-run power generation company and MSEDCL.

As per the latest statistics, MahaGenCo is currently producing over 6,000 MW as against its total installed capacity of 14,000 MW including hydro-electric (1,960) and gas-based power plants (500 MW). Some plants of private players are also shut making the situation worse.

There are seven state-run thermal power stations in the state which have a total of 31 generation units. Of those, nine have been shut down, as per the government’s own statistics. Seven out of nine hydropower plants were shut down because of water shortage and lack of demand.

Insiders say that many coal-based units were shutdown long ago because they are non-viability mainly because of high generation cost. “The MahaGenCo is losing its share to private players and the Centre, which offer much cheaper rates. Our average power cost is around Rs.4.50 per unit while private players offer it at Rs.3.25 per unit and Centre’s Rs 2.75 per unit. Even MSEDCL now prefers to buy cheaper power from others rather than sister concern.

“Pratap Hogade, Chairman of the Maharashtra Electrical Consumer Association, says, “This outage is due to poor planning. The MSEDCL was allowed to charge Rs 3,000 crore from consumers over the three years by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission only to keep plants generating 6,500 MW running. Now, we are being charged even when plants are shut. The government must restart all the closed units or return Rs 3,000 crore back to the public.”

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