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Power bill set to rise amid state regulator’s solar push

With more stress being laid on renewable energy (solar power) in the coming fiscal, as desired by the power regulator, and minimum usage of state-run thermal units, power cost in Punjab is likely to rise further.

The PSERC has revised the renewable power obligation to 14.5 per cent for 2021-22 against eight per cent in 2020-21. Due to this, the requirement of less power from thermal units during the day would result in financial burden on the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).

The gross generation of Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat thermal stations is 14.26 per cent each at plant load factor (PLF). The state government-owned thermal stations operate at much lower PLF as compared to the private ones. The PLF of thermal plants at Rajpura, Talwandi Sabo and Goindwal Sahib are 71.21, 51.97 and 27.84 per cent, respectively.

If the government doesn’t buy power from private thermal stations, it is still required to pay capacity charges on the declared capacity of the plant. The PSPCL has estimated that in the next fiscal the capacity charges payable to Talwandi Sabo, Goindwal Sahib and Rajpura thermal plants would be Rs 1,275 crore, Rs 337 crore and Rs 72 crore, respectively.

“Due to lower power rate from power exchanges and high flexibility of power from power sellers, buyers prefer to draw their requirement from power exchange rather than running their own thermal units,” said VK Gupta, spokesman for the All India Power Engineers Federation.

“In the coming fiscal, this will lead to a hike of 30-35 paise per unit as fixed charges and surrendered power still needs to be paid for. Already Punjab is levying 40 per cent taxes,” he added.

“The thermal plants used to be base-load and now these have been turned into flexible load plants to absorb renewable power. So, the PSPCL will run its thermal units at Ropar and Lehra only in paddy season and that, too, only after sunset as solar power will be available during the day,” Gupta said.

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