High Power charges, coal shortage is the new crisis in Jagan Govt didn’t see coming

Leadership and governance is about knowing or gauging a situation and trying to address a problem when it arises. But, that’s something Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy does’t believe in. One day before the coal stocks in the state dried up, the Chief Minister woke up and appealed to the Centre, seeking immediate allotment of coal and the revival of the State’s defunct coal-fired power plants. 

Declaring that the State’s coal-fired power plants have coal stockpiles that will last only a day or two and that the average power prices in spot markets had shot up three-fold, the Chief Minister has dashed off a letter on October 8 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to immediately intervene to avert “chaotic conditions”.

According to the government, Andhra Pradesh has been meeting the State’s grid demand of 185 to 190 million units a day primarily by bridging the shortfall, about 40 million units, through market purchases. But, the daily average market price has surged three-fold owing to the international energy crisis, rising from a daily average of Rs.4.6 a kilo watt hour (kWh) on September 15 to Rs.15 a kWh on October 8, even hovering at Rs.20 a kWh most times. With the State finding it increasingly difficult to meet the grid demand, load shedding looks inevitable.

To avert load shedding, Jagan Mohan Reddy has requested Prime Minister Modi to direct the Ministries of Coal and Railways to provide 20 rakes of coal to Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation Limited’s (APGENCO’s) thermal units and to revive on an emergency basis the non-working pit-head coal plants across the country without power purchase agreements or coal linkages. 

He also wants the PM to ensure supplies of deep-water well gas on an emergency basis, presently available with the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) and Reliance, to the State’s 2,300 mega-watt (MW) stranded and non-working gas-based power plants. The Chief Minister has also suggested to the Prime Minister that the State’s 500 MW deficit because of plant maintenance could be bridged either by reviving the plants at the earliest or even postponing their maintenance.

The Chief Minister noted that the unfolding energy crisis has come about because of the sudden and unprecedented demand for power post-COVID19 in the State, which had shot up by 15 per cent during the last six months and by 20 per cent in the last month.

“The power generation stations operated by APGENCO, which meet about 45 per cent of the State’s energy needs, have coal stocks hardly sufficient for one or two days. The coal-based power plants are operating at less than 50 per cent of their 90 million units per day capacity because of coal shortages. Even the Central Generating Stations have not been able to supply more than 75 per cent of their 40 MU/day capacity,” he explained in the letter.

Describing the situation as alarming, Jagan Mohan Reddy said: “More water is required in the last stage of harvesting and if it is denied, fields would dry up and farmers stand to lose. Unplanned power cuts once resorted to, will lead to chaotic conditions in the society as we witnessed in 2012.” 

In such dire conditions in the state which is also witnessing a steep hike in power charges after Jagan took over the state, this new coal crisis and the power crisis ahead is going to put Andhra Pradesh further, in shambles. 

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Tejaswini Pagadala

Communications Consultant: TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.
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