NTPC cites conflicting reasons for shutdown of units
November 20, 2009
State-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is citing conflicting reasons for the current shutdown of two units each at its power stations in Bihar and West Bengal. While official sources from NTPC told the media last week that shortage of coal was the main reason for closure of the units, analysts covering the power sector have reportedly been told that the units have been shut down for maintenance. The two plants in question are the 1,600MW Farakka station in West Bengal and the 2,340MW Kahalgaon station in Bihar.
“It (the closure) is due to insufficient quantity of coal. We are not getting the required quantity of coal for the units. Things will improve as we have a tie up with Coal India Ltd (CIL). CIL has been facing strikes and other problems at its mines. Infrastructure for transportation of coal is also a problem in our country. We will soon get over this problem,” an NTPC official told Moneylife.
However, NTPC has denied any coal shortage in its briefing to analysts tracking the sector. They have been informed that the units have been shut down as part of scheduled maintenance and that it would not impact internal generation targets.
Data on plant load factor (PLF) provided by the company to the press and analysts are also inconsistent. While an analyst said he was informed that the plants are operating at 85% PLF, the NTPC official told Moneylife: “We are working at 50% capacity, so the plant load factor too will be around the same level.” He added that coal shortage was “not a problem” as the company had the option of diverting coal from nearby units to meet any shortage. “Options like diverting coal supply from other plants are available, but even these options take time. The problem should be solved within a fortnight,” he said.
NTPC’s total coal requirement in the current fiscal is estimated at 150 million tonnes. – Amritha Pillay[email protected]