West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd (WBPDCL), which was to add 1,270MW of thermal power to its existing capacity of 2,900MW by 31 March, has missed the deadline, pushing the state from being power surplus to a deficient one.
The three projects which were to be commissioned this March are still grappling with getting equipment in place. One of these is at Bakreshwar, 260km from Kolkata, where the plan is to add two 210MW units to the three existing units of the same capacity. The Rs2,100-crore project, part-funded with a loan from Japan Bank for International Cooperation, is being implemented in collaboration with Japan’s Itochu Corporation.
“The equipment supplier has not been able to deliver on time,” said S.K. Roychowdhury, chief general manager, WBPDCL.
About 90% of the equipment has arrived and once the remainder is in, there will be a month-long job of welding together various parts of the plants before the boilers can be fired up.
The situation is similar at Sagar Dighi, 240km from Kolkata, where the collaboration is with the Chinese state-run power equipment maker Dongfang Electric Corporation to set up a 600MW greenfield thermal power project, with an investment of Rs750 crore. Work has been slow as the supply of equipment from Dongfang has not been sequential and very staggered.
The only progress has been at the Rs1,430 crore, 250MW plant being set up with at Santaldih, 340km from Kolkata, where the boiler was ignited on 30 March. But given that it can take up to two months for a boiler to stabilize after being fired, it will be a while before this project is also commissioned, said a WBPDCL official who did not wish to be named.
These delays have worked against the state’s power situation.
“This year, our peak demand for power is about 3,300MW against last year’s 2,950MW,” said an executive of the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB), who too did not want to be named. This is a 12% rise in demand over the previous year, which is higher than the historical annual growth rate of 7-8%.
Last fiscal, WBSEB sold power to states such as Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, at prices as high as Rs6 per unit. This summer, the state has offered to buy power at a price range of Rs5-7 per unit.
“But the other states are not willing to sell,” state power minister Mrinal Banerjee said.