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India’s daily average spot electricity price has nearly doubled over the last one month and is close to Rs 5 per unit, according to executives of India Energy Exchange, the country’s biggest electricity exchange.
On Monday, the average price for evening peak was Rs 7.7 per kilowatt hour—one the highest in recent times. A price of Rs 5 per unit is a six-month high. It had last crossed Rs 5 per unit in September, when power plants were facing coal shortage. “Daily average price declined gradually after September as the coal supply situation eased. Since then the price had remained subdued, at least till February, with sudden spikes though it did not touch Rs 5 per unit,” one of the executives cited earlier said.
“This time, the reason for spiralling price is a mix of rise in power demand, outages of a few large power-generating units in Gujarat and Haryana as well as inadequate coal supply to certain plants,” said Rajesh K Mediratta, director of business development at Indian Energy Exchange.
According to him, independent power producers who use imported coal, light up their units only after high prices sustain for a few days. “We expect them to light up their units and start offering power at the exchanges in a few days, following which we hope prices will soften again gradually,” Mediratta said.
According to power sector executives, Gujarat and Haryana are states that have been hit by unit outages. Some units in these states have stopped generating as their tariffs are not supporting their cost of generation.
“Some 4,000 mw of generating capacities are off grid at the moment. This has added to the power supply shortfall,” Mediratta said. Data furnished by the Central Electricity Authority shows that coal stocks at 25 power generating stations are at critical level.
These units are, however, non-pit-head plants, meaning they are far from the mining pits and require the railways to supply coal. Data shows that 14 units have coal stocks that would hardly last for four days, while another 11 have stocks that would last a week.
Apart from these 25, there are other generating stations that are facing coal shortage. However, they are not considered critical because they have either received near full quota of Coal India or had missed out on deliveries in the past.
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