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The union power ministry has asked the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) to determine the eligible quantity of domestic coal for power plants using coal under the special auction window of ‘Shakti B(viii)(a)’, taking into account 10% imported coal for blending which is equivalent to about 15% of domestic coal in energy terms.

‘Shakti B (viii) (a)’ is the window for power plants which have untied capacity to bid for coal, to generate power using the coal from this window and sell it in the exchange under Day Ahead Market (DAM) or the DEEP portal for short term power purchase agreement.

“For such plants, Ministry has directed CEA to compute the quantity of coal consumed (procured under SHAKTI B (viii) (a) window) on the basis of mandatory blending of 10% by weight for generation during the period starting from 15th June 2022 upto 31st March 2023," said a statement from the ministry.

It will give a window of about three weeks for these plants to procure imported coal, according to the ministry.

In the wake of the surging power demand and shortage of domestic coal to meet the demand, the ministry in April advised all power generation companies including independent power producers to blend 10% of imported coal for power generation.

The Centre has issued a number of directives to the states and gencos in a bid to improve the availability of power.

On 27 May, the ministry issued directions to gencos saying that with soaring power demand and power shortage in some areas, power generation needs to be maximised.

The ministry also said that despite efforts to increase the supply of domestic coal, there is still a gap between the requirement and supply of coal, because of which coal stocks at the generating stations are depleting at a worrying rate.

“The power ministry issued directions to all gencos on 18 May that if the orders for import of coal for blending are not placed by them by 31 May and if the imported coal for blending purpose does not start arriving at the power plants by 15 June, the defaulter gencos would have to import coal for blending purpose to the extent of 15% in the remaining period upto October," said ministry statement on 27 May.

As the dues by power distribution companies towards gencos remain a key reason for the low availability of coal, the ministry recently said that it is working on a scheme under which discoms would be able to pay financial dues in easy instalments devoid of further late payment surcharge.

According to latest data from the CEA, the total coal stock in the 173 power plants under its ambit stood at 21.16 million tonne as of 26 May, which is 33% of the required inventory of 66.49 million tonne.

As many as 82 power plants based on domestic coal and 10 imported coal based plants are surviving on critical stocks -- less than 25% of the required quantity.

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