Firms told to run gas units as power ask rises

The government has directed companies to operate underutilised gas-based power plants in May, June and extend operations of imported coal-based plants until October 15 to meet anticipated high demand for electricity, as per two government orders.

India registered an 8 per cent rise in electricity consumption in the 12 months ended March 31 and demand is expected to rise in the hot summer months.

In an order dated Friday, the government for the first time invoked an emergency clause mandating companies to operate underutilised gas-based power plants by importing the fuel.

Idle capacity

India has about 24 gigawatts (GWs) of gas-based power plants that have been idling or underused for decades due to lack of fuel. Power stations would be informed two weeks in advance about the requirements so they could import gas, the government said in its order.

“Gas-based power plants are required to meet the anticipated surge in power consumption in summer months,” it said.

The Power Ministry has projected 260 GW peak power demand this summer (April to June ). Peak power demand touched an all-time high of 243 GW in September last year.

Torrent and NTPC are among the big gas-based power station companies.

In another order, seen by Reuters on Saturday, the Centre invoked an emergency clause directing firms such as Tata Power and Adani Power — which operate imported coal-fired plants with a capacity of almost 16 GW — to continue operations.

As per the arrangement, GRID-INDIA will inform gas-based units in advance of the number of days for which gas-based power is required. Gas-based units holding Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with distribution licensees shall first offer their power to PPA holders.

If the power offered is not utilised by any PPA holder, then it shall be offered in the power market.

Units not tied to PPAs must offer their output in the power market. A high-level committee headed by Chairperson, Central Electricity Authority will facilitate the implementation of this direction.

The India Meteorological Department has predicted above-normal maximum temperatures over most parts of the country during summer.

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