Punjab Power department faced many challenges, set new records in year 2023: Harbhajan

PSPCL awarded as top performing among power distribution companies across country for energy conservation measures
CHANDIGARH: Presenting an account of the performance of the Power Department during the year 2023, Punjab Power Minister Harbhajan Singh ETO on Sunday said that the department successfully faced many challenges besides setting new records during this year while providing free power to more than 90 percent of the domestic consumers by providing the facility of free electricity of 600 units bimonthly or 300 units monthly, besides providing free power to the 100 percent of the tube wells for agriculture in the state.

Disclosing this in a press statement issued here, the Power Minister said that with the efforts of Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann led Punjab Government the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) witnessed a profit of Rs 564.75 crore from April 1, 2023 to September 30, 2023. He said that the PSPCL has successfully managed to overcome the challenges in operationalizing the Pachhwara Central Coal Mine, which was closed for past 7 years, and the dispatch of low-cost coal from this mine as compared to the costly imported coal to PSPCL thermal power stations was started in December 2022. He said that about 30 Lac Metric Tonne coal has been supplied to PSPCL thermal power stations till now. He said sufficient coal stock for about 30 days is available at Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat plants. He further added that about 20 percent more power has been generated by the state government thermal plants this year. He said that earlier the practice of short-term power purchase agreements was followed which resulted into purchase of expensive power in the hour of need. He said that now the PSPCL has been planning well in advance to make power purchase arrangements at competitive prices.

He said that the Punjab PSPCL has been awarded by the Union Power Ministry as the top performing company among power distribution companies (Discoms) across the country for energy conservation measures under the PAT (Performance, Achievement and Business) programme. He said that during the PAT Cycle II, 80, 686 Energy Saving Certificates were issued to PSPCL. He said that the value of each energy saving certificate is worth about Rs 1840, thus the total cost of these amounts to Rs 14.84 crore.

Power Minister Harbhajan Singh ETO said that the highest ever demand of 15, 293 MW of power was met on June 23 this year, which was 7 percent higher than the highest demand of 14, 311 MW of met on June 29, 2022. He said that apart from this, a day’s record energy demand of 3427 lakh units was met on September 9 this year, while in year 2022 the record energy demand of 3345 lakh units was met on June 29. He said that during the paddy season this year, more than 8 hours of supply was ensured for the irrigation without imposing any power cuts to domestic, commercial, industrial and other consumers. He said that during this year the available transmission capacity (ATC limit) was increased from 7100 MW to 9000 MW to import more power from outside the state.

Highlighting the initiatives taken to ensure sustainable and affordable solar power for the state, ETO said that the state government has signed Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) on July 21 this year, under which 1000 MW of solar power from projects located anywhere in India to be procured at Rs 2.53 per KVH and 200 MW of solar power from projects located anywhere in Punjab will be procured at the rate of Rs.2.75 per KWH. He said that 800 MW solar/hybrid power project was fully commissioned by December 2022 and power has started flowing in the PSPCL system at 2.63/kWh to Rs. 2.76/KWH. He said that additional Solar power of 400 MW is further scheduled to be commissioned by March 2024.

Referring to the improvement in power infrastructure, the power minister said the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) has been sanctioned for Rs. 3, 873 Crores to augment or improve the distribution infrastructure such as 66kV lines & 66kV Power Transformers, 11kV feeders, 11kV DTRs etc. He said the Detail Project Report (DPR) for the modernisation works amounting to around Rs. 6000 Crore is expected to be approved by the Government of India by March 2024.

Referring to the efforts made to further prioritize and streamline services for the industrial sector, the Power Minister said that PSPCL has launched a dedicated cell – Industrial Facility Cell (IFC) this year, which is being monitored by the office of Chairman cum Managing Director of PSPCL. He said that a dedicated helpline WhatsApp number 9646119141 and an email address industrial-cell@pspcl.in have been launched under this initiative. He said that the industrialists can easily register their complaints through this WhatsApp number or email, and these complaints are being dealt with on a priority basis by giving immediate attention. He said that the PSPCL has also made arrangements for mobile transformers to immediately resume power supply by replacing the defective transformers.

Disclosing the figures of recruitments in the Power Department and features of newly launched Accident Compensation Policy, Harbhajan Singh ETO said that from April 1, 2022 to December 15, 2023, a total of 4446 recruitments were made for various posts in the Power Department, including 3662 persons in PSPCL and 784 in PSTCL. He said that a new Accident Compensation Policy was also implemented this year for the welfare of workers and provision has been recently made regarding payment of ex-gratia amounting to Rs 10 Lakh in case of death due to an accident occurring during the course of employment and group insurance of Rs. 10.00 Lakh for the contractual workers hired by PSPCL as well as hired by contractors and outsourced agencies. He said the policy also covers private persons (Adults as well as minor) both in case of fatal and non-fatal accidents.

He said that One Time Settlement (OTS) scheme has been launched this year for defaulting consumers so that they can pay their dues. He said that earlier compound interest was charged at the rate of 18 percent on the outstanding payment, but under this scheme, the interest rate was reduced to a simple rate of interest of 9 percent. He said that under this scheme, the consumers whose connection has been disconnected for less than 6 months will not be charged any fixed charges while the fixed charges for only for 6 months was charged in case the connection was disconnected for a duration of more than 6 months. He said that option of paying the default amount in four installments was also provided under this scheme.

ETO said that the Power department also undertook the work on war footing to restore power at 595 places affected by floods across the state. He said that the PSPCL bear damage worth Rs 16 crores to the infrastructure due to floods. He said that officials and employees of PSPCL worked day and night to restore power supply in the affected areas, giving top priority to critical infrastructure like hospitals, medical facilities, telecommunication and water supply etc.



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