Home >Industry >Energy >Private power firms see increased risk of NPAs—as much as 3 trillion

New Delhi: As much as 3 trillion of investment in a dozen private power plants is at risk of turning into NPA as state discoms buying power have not been making payment for months, official data and sources said.

According to data available on the PRAAPTI portal of the power ministry, 12 power plants of private firms such as GMR and Adani Group and public sector generators like NTPC Ltd have about 41,730 crore outstanding from state distribution companies (discoms) as of December 2018.

Dues as on date run into an estimated 60,000 crore, half of it being towards independent power producers in the power sector.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Uttar Pradesh has the most outstanding dues of 6,497 crore, followed by Maharashtra at 6,179 crore. Other states not paying power generating companies on time include Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

According to the PRAAPTI portal, Uttar Pradesh takes 544 days to clear its dues while Maharashtra takes 580 days.

More than 80% of the outstanding is accounted for by India's most industrialized states, such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, which are biggest consumers of electricity. The Top-10 states take an average of 562 days for payments.

According to people familiar with the matter, the delay in payments is posing severe working capital issues at the private power plants.

Delay in realization of receivables from state power discoms weakens the ability of project developers to service debt in a timely manner and leads to exhaustion of working capital in some cases, the people said, adding that delayed payments risk projects being termed NPAs under Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) norms.

In some cases, the discoms continue to press for renegotiating terms of power purchase agreement (PPA). This coupled with non-payment of penalties/late payment surcharges is causing financial stress for such projects, sources said.

Bajaj Group-owned Lalitput Power Generation Co. Ltd reportedly is unable to clear salaries of nearly 3,000 staff because of pending dues of over 2,185 crore from discoms of Uttar Pradesh. So acute is the situation that the company is unable to maintain requisite coal stocks.

A recent World Bank study reviewing the power sector's performance points to issues such as outstanding payments to power generating companies.

The people said 37,823 megawatt (MW) capacity in the private sector, which was built at an investment of over 3 trillion, is at risk due to delayed payments and run the possibility of being declared NPAs if timely repayment of bank debt is not made.

Out of the 41,730 crore outstanding as on December 2018, Adani Group has to get 7,433.47 crore and GMR another 1,788.18 crore. Sembcorp has an outstanding payment of 1,497.07 crore. State-owned NTPC has unpaid bills of 17,187 crore.

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