There is a possibility of Mumbai once again facing power outages similar to the one it experienced on Tuesday due to congested transmission lines and Tata Power Company's (TPC) non-functioning Unit 8.
Taking cognizance of the outage, chief minister Chavan has constituted an inquiry panel headed by principal secretary, Energy to ascertain who was responsible for the mess on Tuesday. The panel would also chalk out short-term as well as long-term measures to avoid recurrence of the problem.
Of TPC's three power generating units (5, 6 and 8), coal-based Unit 5 (500 MW) had tripped on Tuesday. This provides power for around Rs 4. Unit 6 (250 MW) is oil based and its generation cost is close to Rs 13. Unit 8 (500 MW) is not functioning as it caught fire in January. On Tuesday TPC said it would take 12 months to restore Unit 8.
This means if there are technical issues in generating power, there is need to get standby power from outside Mumbai or the state. Here the problem, however, is with the transmission lines.
TPC managing director and CEO Anil Sardana said: "Mumbai will always remain on constraint due to the transmission lines."
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) has asked TPC not to provide it electricity from Unit 6 as it was very expensive and customers would have to bear the burden.
However on Tuesday TPC provided power from Unit 6 to save the situation.
"Why should we penalize our consumers for somebody else's inefficiency?", asked a BEST official. BEST on Wednesday made it clear that it would not pay any amount above that mentioned in the Power Purchase Agreement (that is around Rs 13 per unit). "Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) will decide who will pay for power supplied from Unit 6 on Tuesday," said the official, who added that BEST was already paying Rs 110cr annually to TPC. It also pays standby charges in case of an outage.
Another accusation against TPC is not complying with the schedule for restoring Unit 8. "Earlier they had said Unit 8 would be ready within 5 months, but even after 8-9 months it hasn't been restored. All we demand is that the contracted power be made available," the official added.
"Somebody messed up the system. Till the transmission lines are upgraded as directed by MERC a couple of years ago, the monopoly of certain company cannot be broken, he added.
Goyal rejects allegation
Union power minister Piyush Goyal, meanwhile, rejected as baseless Maharashtra govt's accusation that Central govt was responsible for the worsening power crisis in the state. "It is getting coal... If somebody wants to play politics what can I do," he said.
He said the Centre wanted states to cooperate and was working out a plan to ensure that three states—Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi—which had come forward to work with the Centre would get power 24×7. Goyal said the Centre could not resolve power crisis on its own and would need states' cooperation. "Irrespective of political factors, the Centre would not be found wanting," he said.