Kashmir’s Independent Power Producers Can Be Light Amid Darkness.
By Zaid Bin Shabir | Kashmir Observer
Amid a deepening coal crisis and probable breakdown of Kashmir’s crucial power plants, the Independent Power Producers (IPP) from Kashmir have come up with a solution that can mitigate the current crisis.
The valley-based IPPs have offered their services to supply extra power to the Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL) grids and lift the power curse in the region, only if the Government ends the recently adopted grid-rotation policy.
During the acute power crisis, the IPPs producing electricity at the domestic level could have provided a supply sufficient for at least 50,000 households in Kashmir, but the KPDCL’s recent policy is allegedly wasting the homemade power supply, causing financial losses and augmenting electricity demand in Kashmir which they say “could’ve been easily met through these stations”.
Pertinently, these stations and grids are the same receiving bodies to which the locally produced power of IPPs is connected from several IPP plants. The power is then handed over to the department at these state receiving stations and grids and from where the department is fully entitled to supply this domestically produced energy to various households of Kashmir as per their schedule.
“Since the unbearable power cuts began in Kashmir, KPDCL adopted a new grid rotation policy, under which they shut several receiving stations and grids,” an IPP from Kashmir, who wished anonymity fearing reprisal from the department, told Kashmir Observer.
“Despite Kashmir being wrapped under an acute power crisis, these stations and grids are being shut down for an average of about 8-10 hours, sometimes for even 19 hours. That’s how the locally produced power is disconnected from these receiving stations and thus causing disruption of power supply to Kashmir valley,” the IPP added.
Currently, coal-starving grids are the primary source of electricity generation at the National Grid.
“If the department allows us to produce power and connect the same to already allotted receiving stations and grids, one IPP can easily supply electricity to at least 10,000 households in their respective plant specific areas,” the IPP said.
“But we’re running from pillar to post in the department, but no one seems bothered to listen to us.”
As of now, the IPP noted, the natural water supply is getting wasted. Also, he said, there’s a generation loss besides a massive power loss.
“The hitch is the power department’s new grid-rotation policy aiming at subsiding the load on grids and receiving stations,” another IPP said.
“Presently, in Kashmir, load has increased and supply availability has decreased. Hypothetically speaking, if there’s a requirement of 100 MW, the department can only provide 50 MW as of now. So to fill the gap of the 50 MW shortage, the department is going ahead with the load shedding.”
These private power producing units in Kashmir are actually the power injectors and not the consumers.
“If at all, the department has an acute shortage of supply, allow us to inject our supply into the grids,” said the IPP. “That way, the 50 MW shortage can be easily subsided upto an extent. It’s better to have some extra units in your possession, than having nothing at all.”
Notably, there are over eight independent power producing units in J&K which use the natural water bodies to generate electricity and supply the same to receiving stations of the grids.
“Already, not many in J&K are investing in IPPs,” another IPP said.“But if the state already has some four-five private units in the Kashmir region, isn’t it liable to find a solution to our grievances? If the power department takes a proactive approach and manages to keep these receiving stations open for us to inject our supply, we can easily solve ongoing power crisis.”
As the glaciers are currently thawing, the water supply in the region has increased, which can easily help one IPP to produce at least 100 MW of electricity in one single day.
“It’s the time of peak generation as the water availability has increased due to melting of glaciers,” the IPP quoted above said.
“My plant is registered for 5MW,which means I can easily produce 100 MW in one single day and supply the same to the government without any hindrance.”
There are five such plants in Kashmir. Together, they can produce a total of 500-600 MW of power in one single day.
“But unfortunately,” the IPP said,“this energy is going to waste on a daily basis because of the department’s negligence.”
The IPPs have also claimed that the state buys a unit against a payment of Rs 9 from non-Kashmiri power suppliers. “But we’re willing to provide our supplies for just Rs 4 per unit,” the IPP said. “In all the ways, it’s J&K that’s winning. No one is at the losing end.”
When contacted, Chief Engineer, KPDCL, Javaid Yusuf Dar, said that the administration has issued strict instructions regarding these IPPs.
“We’ve been clearly asked to provide hassle free grid availability to these units,” Javaid told Kashmir Observer. “Despite being small scale units, we’ve provided a hamper less service to them.”
The chief engineer said the department is utilising each and every unit of electricity available for a better supply to consumers. “Supply from units in Branwar, Drung and Bandipora are being used at a war footing without any trouble,” he said.
However, he asserted, there may have been times when the services of these IPPs would’ve been cut. “Sometimes, the load increases and it’s not possible that we can keep our grids open for these units. This will jeopardise the whole system. There were two complaints from IPP units in Kokernag and Kangan but that were resolved. Rest we’re doing everything to maintain a normal supply of power to the region.”
However, KPDCL’s Managing Director, Dr. Basharat Qayoom, told Kashmir Observer that his department appreciates willingness of all those who want to support the local population.
“If any IPP unit is facing a problem in generation or supply of energy, they are more than welcome to sit with us in finding a joint solution for the problem,” Dr. Basharat said. “We will do everything in our power to help these units in generation of electricity and its hassle free supply to the state grids.”