NEW DELHI: The already-troubled Dabhol power project in Maharashtra faces a fresh set of problems with its only operational unit suffering turbine failure, leading to a 50% decline in output.
The Union power ministry has blamed General Electric (GE) for the turbine failure, but the company said it was too early to pin the blame on “faulty equipment.”
The power project, rechristened Ratnagiri Gas Power Pvt. Ltd (RGPPL), was conceived in the early 1990s with a capacity of 2,150MW. It ran into a series of problems and was eventually acquired by a combine of public-sector banks, the Maharashtra government and financial institutions. The government had set a firm deadline for the plant to be fully operational, using natural gas to produce power, by November 2007.
“The fault happened in January this year and has reduced power generation from the second unit by half. It was found out that the blade of the turbine supplied by GE broke at its root and damaged the compressor along with the turbine,” said a senior government official who did not wish to be named.
When Mint contacted GE via email, a company spokesperson replied: “As the root cause analysis of the malfunction is not yet complete, it is not possible to say why the malfunction occurred. It is certainly premature to pin the malfunction on ‘faulty equipment’.”
“One of the gas turbines started malfunctioning and GE was given the final ‘notice to proceed’ to fix the equipment on 14 March 2007. GE has mobilized global resources to fix the issue and has a team working 24x7 at the site. This is a complex task and we must follow the proper process to fix the issue to ensure reliable operation in the future.”
The ill-fated project has been divided into three phases, out of which only the second phase with a capacity of 740MW is operational. The power is being sold to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) at Rs5.01 per unit. The first and second phases of the project have generation capacities of 670MW and 740MW, respectively.
The latest setback at RGPPL comes at a time when Maharashtra is facing a power shortage of 9,000MW, while demand exceeds 16,000MW.