Experts say that the viability of nearly 20,109.85 mw domestic fuel-starved gas-fired power plants now solely depends on State distribution companies’ (discoms) agreeing to pay a higher price for electricity.
This is because generating power from expensive imported gas would push tariffs up by at least Rs 3-4 per kwh. The Power Ministry, which has tried several measures to help power plants, including price pooling of gas, now seems left with no other option. There are no changes in domestic gas supplies. The gas-based power plants are now running at plant load factor of 30-35 per cent.
Diversion from other sectors can only keep increasing the availability, but will not help much, P Uma Shankar, Secretary at Ministry of Power said. The most crucial factor is tariff increase, he said. However, a Power Ministry official said that increase in tariff is possible only if discoms are willing to buy and are allowed to pass through the higher cost.
But, the purchaser is not willing to pay a higher cost. At present, gas-fired stations require 72 mscmd of gas to operate at 75 per cent plant load factor. Against this requirement, the actual gas supply to these plants is about 27 mscmd that allows the units to operate at only 29 per cent plant load factor, the Power Ministry said.
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