Power diverted to poll-bound states

Ktaka faces cuts as pvt producers make a killing

Power diverted to poll-bound states

 For more than a week now, all five electricity supply companies (Escoms) in the state, including Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), have quietly resorted to unscheduled load-shedding for at least two hours everyday in the face of dramatic short-supplies encountered by them.

The reason: Almost all 30 private power producers in the State from whom Power Corporation of Karnataka Ltd (PCKL) buys electricity have suddenly diverted supplies to TN, Kerala and Puducherry, which are in the midst of Assembly elections.

According to informed sources, the diversions to the two states and the Union Territory of Puducherry could be in the range of 1,000 megawatts which have pushed up the overall electricity shortage in Karnataka to 1,900 megawatts. Bescom alone is facing a shortage of around 300 megawatts. 

Most of the 30 power generating companies are co-generators and PCKL usually has short-term power purchase agreements with them. In 2009, the State government had fixed between Rs 2.90 and Rs 3 per unit for buying power from these companies.

However, desperate as they would be, the ruling parties in the poll-bound states have resorted to procuring electricity from the private producers in Karnataka to appease their voters. The governments in TN and Kerala, said the sources, have offered up to Rs 15 per unit to ensure uninterrupted power supplies and bolster the poll prospects of the ruling fronts.  

“TN is procuring power at a very high cost of Rs 14.25 per unit. Most of the private players from Karnataka and other southern states are selling power to TN,” said a source in the power sector. As on Saturday, TN, Kerala and Puducherry are procuring power at a cost of between Rs 13.13 and Rs 14.25 while in the rest of the country the average procurement cost is Rs 3.27, according to an official from a private power generating company.

Some of the bio-mass, wind powers and mini-hydel power generators in the state, according to the sources, are also selling power to the neighbouring states. Together, the two sectors contribute about 300MW of power to the State grid.

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