The Punjab cabinet on Thursday constituted a sub-committee to consider and work out the modalities for the closure of the state-owned thermal plants in view of the Central Electricity Agency (CEA) guidelines to retire non-viable Thermal Power Plants (TPPS) that have exceeded 25-year life span.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, here on Thursday afternoon.
The move is in line with the guidelines issued by Central Electricity Authority (CEA) to retire non-viable Thermal Power Plants that have exceeded 25-year life span, an official spokesperson said after the meeting.
The cabinet sub-committee will be headed by Health Minister Brahm Mohindra and will have Power Minister Rana Gurjit, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal and Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as members. The panel has been given two weeks’ time to submit its report on the move to permanently shut down the state-owned thermal power plants at Bathinda and Ropar. It has also been mandated to make recommendations with respect to the fate of the employees of these plants.
According to the spokesperson, the 460 MW Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) at Bathinda and Units 1 & 2 of 1260 MW Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) at Ropar had become non-viable due to the use of obsolete technology coupled with high cost of power generation. In comparison, the new Independent Power Producer (IPP) projects, including 1400 MW Nabha Power Limited (NPL) at Rajpura, 1980 MW Talwandi Sabo Power Limited at Mansa and 540 MW GVK Thermal Power Plant at Goindwal Sahib, were much more economical and efficient, the meeting was informed.
Statistics showed that generation cost per unit in the state-owned TPPs had been increasing year on year, said the spokesperson, pointing out that the Central Electricity Authority had been pressing the states for the past several years to replace the old & inefficient sub-critical units with super critical units/retirement/renovation.
All the units at Bathinda and Ropar had outlived their lives and had been operating to a mere 10-15% of their total capacity, said the spokesperson, adding that closure of the plants would not lead to any shortfall in power generation in the state. With an annual power generation capacity of 13900 Mega Watt units, Punjab is a power surplus state and supplies would not be hit because of the closure, which in any case is slated for winter, when the demand for power is low, the spokesperson added. With a peak demand of just about 11000 MW units, the state had a 2000 MW surplus power generation this year.
In fact, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited had, earlier this month, shut down 13 state-owned thermal units to prevent overloading of the grid following a spike in hydel power generation and supply of power by other states under bilateral agreements signed before the start of the paddy season.