Dabhol turbines are different, admits GE

Dabhol turbines are different, admits GE
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First Published: Fri, Jan 09 2009. 12 41 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Jan 09 2009. 12 41 AM IST
New Delhi: General Electric Co. (GE), which has been sparring with Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt. Ltd (RGPPL) over the supply of allegedly defective turbines, has admitted that the equipment supplied to the project is different from at least a thousand such units sold in other markets.
“The GE team has been involved in discussions with the RGPPL team over the past two days and has proposed that the nine FA-class units (turbines) at Dabhol be modified. They have said that these machines are different from the 1,000 F-class units supplied the world over; (only) 150 nine-FA-class units have been supplied the world over...; we want them to do it at their cost and, post-modification, also give guarantee of the operations,” said a senior government official, who didn’t want to be identified.
Mint couldn’t independently ascertain whether the 150 nine-FA-class turbines sold by GE in other markets have been seeing the same problems the turbines sold to RGPPL have.
In response to a specific query on the turbines, a GE spokesperson said in an email that the firm “continues to support the Dabhol Power plant revival project and we are committed to continue working closely with our customer to complete the revival of the plant as quickly as possible”.
The same spokesperson had said in a 2 November mail to Mint that the “technology installed at Dabhol is well-proven in applications around the globe”.
RGPPL is the new name for the beleaguered Dabhol Power Co. and was taken over by a combine of public sector banks, the Maharashtra government, GAIL (India) Ltd, NTPC Ltd and financial institutions in mid-2005.
The firms have been trying to revive the plant, but have run into mechanical difficulties, and the Union government has claimed that four of the six nine-FA-class turbines supplied by GE to the 2,150MW power project in Maharashtra are defective.
A senior RGPPL executive, who did not want to be identified, confirmed the talks between the company and GE. “There is a team from RGPPL that is in discussions with GE. GE has proposed modifications to the turbines, which will require money.”
The RGPPL board is to consider GE’s proposal on Friday, but the meeting is unlikely to take place on account of a strike called by officers of state-owned oil and energy firms.
NTPC, however, is averse to the idea of incurring any additional expenditure on the project, which has already overshot the initial estimates.
The project cost was originally estimated at Rs10,038 crore, which was revised to Rs11,998 crore. The latest revisions peg the project cost at Rs12,182 crore.
“We are not ready to bear this additional expense,” said a senior NTPC executive, who did not want to be identified.
Dabhol was conceived in the 1990s and was originally promoted by Enron. It ran into trouble soon after, with the government with which Enron had signed the agreement losing in the polls to the state assembly, and the new government questioning the high cost of power the plant would produce. The plant was taken over by the new owners after Enron’s collapse.
RGPPL recently decided to scale down its capacity from 2,150MW to 1,844MW, a move that could increase the price at which the power generated will be sold to the state-run power utility in Maharashtra, as reported by Mint on 15 October.
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First Published: Fri, Jan 09 2009. 12 41 AM IST