Odisha is battling a major power crisis in spite of its reputation of a state with a large power surplus. The state is facing an acute power crunch in the peak monsoon season when its hydropower generation typically swells.
Peak power deficit in Odisha has climbed to 2060 Mw while average power shortage is also at a high of 1650 Mw. The scale of the power crunch is unusual during the monsoon season and has even eclipsed the peak shortfall of 400-500 Mw, which the state normally faces during the blistering summer.
Floods have forced the state to halt operations of its key hydropower stations at Indravati and Balimela and even at its peak, hydropower generation is 410 Mw against the installed capacity of 3725 Mw in the state.
The crisis at Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd's (MCL) Talcher Coalfields had also paralysed coal production and despatch to key thermal power plants in the state. NTPC's pit head station at Talcher and the 3000 Mw super thermal power plant at Kaniha faced a dearth of coal after workers at Talcher Coalfields, pressured by political leaders, ceased work for two weeks over the mishap at Bharatpur coal mine on July 24, before production resumed.
NTPC Kaniha was forced to shut down four of its 500 Mw units owing to a severe coal shortage. As on August 9, the Maharatna power utility is running four units at reduced load with generation totaling 1500 Mw. To run at full load, NTPC needs 55,000 tonnes of coal each day. Against this normative requirement, the power producer is getting 43,000 tonnes - 23,000 tonnes from Lingaraj mines, 10,000 tonnes from Kaniha mines and the rest from Ib valley coalfields and Singareni Collieries, a PSU coal producer.
Odisha is entitled to 520 Mw from NTPC's Kaniha station. Although power supplies were halted from the Kaniha plant for about two weeks, the station has now resumed supplies to the state grid. As against 520 Mw, the state is getting 230 Mw due to truncated load at Kaniha.
Apart from NTPC's power stations, GMR Kamalanga plant at Dhenkanal also bore the brunt of the coal crisis.
“We hope that coal production and despatches will reach normalcy in up to 72 hours. Presently, we are incurring Rs 16 crore each day to buy power from external sources, including the central pool,” said Dibya Shankar Mishra, Minister for Industries and Energy, Odisha government.
To plug the deficit, Gridco, the state-owned bulk power buyer-cum-trader is also buying 1000 Mw of costly power from the spot exchanges, apart from NTPC's generating stations located outside Odisha.
The power shortfall is so unsettling that the office of the chief load despatcher has urged Gridco to arrange power to meet the burgeoning demand or impose load restrictions on the consumers and industry round the clock.
Odisha's peak power demand (as on August 8) had climbed to 3770 Mw and out of this only 1710 Mw was made available, spawning a deficit of 2060 Mw. More than half of the state's average power demand of 3400 Mw was also unmet.