Acute Coal Shortage reason behind power outage

Acute coal shortages are triggering power outages in many states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh as thermal plants across the country continue to grapple with coal shortage and the early onset of summer due to climate change.

Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, which was usually witnessing peak demand in the month of May till last year, was hit by an intense heatwave in March this year thus increasing the electricity demand.

“Jammu & Kashmir is doing much better than many states when it comes to supplying electricity. The average power demand is 2400 MW and our supply is 2061 MW. We are ready to buy more power from the market but the supply at the energy exchange is scarce due to increased demand nationwide and insufficient coal stocks at thermal plants. Around 100 of the 173 power plants are facing coal shortage and situation is expected to be normalized within a week,” A chief engineer from the Trading Department, J&K UT said.

It is learned that the Power Development Department (PDD), Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir is purchasing power from the energy exchange at Rs.12 per unit and supplying to the people at Rs. 3.5 per unit to ensure maximum supply during the scorching summer and auspicious hours of Ramzan.

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, March 2022 was the hottest March in India’s 122-year-old recorded weather history. Similarly, April is turning out to be the hottest April in the last 50 years.

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All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) recently issued a statement saying that Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Jharkhand are among the states facing widespread power cuts due to coal scarcity.

“In the first half of April 2022, the domestic power demand hit a 38-year high for the month. While there was 1.1 percent power shortage in October 2021, this shortfall shot up to 1.4 per cent in April 2022,” AIPEF statement had said.

Due to power scarcity, Andhra Pradesh had declared an industrial holiday on the 8th April while the Gujarat government had mandated industries to observe holidays once a week.

J&K Union Territory too has gone for power cuts for the industries in the morning and evening, however, it has decided not to impose stricter industrial holidays which might have resulted in 50% reduced power supplies to 24×7 industrial units.

In Maharashtra, the power crisis had deepened on the 22nd of April and many areas were added in the load-shedding list while bigger states like Uttar Pradesh is also facing load shedding in villages and smaller towns.

“At the moment we are witnessing 18-20% power cuts in Jammu & Kashmir against the demand while other states are witnessing 30-40 % power cuts. People should know currently we are positioned well than many states and making all efforts to ensure that during Iftar and Sehri, people in the Kashmir division get uninterrupted power. Centre has recently rushed coals to thermal plants and we are hoping the situation to return normal as soon as surplus power is available with the energy exchanges in the open market,” a PDD official said requesting anonymity.