Mumbai : Mumbai pays an additional Rs 9 cr a month as standby charges for assured power supply. What then explains Tuesday’s power failure in large parts of the island city?

O P Gupta, GM of the BEST, has joined Mumbaikars in asking this question. In fact, he has alleged that the power meant for BEST was diverted elsewhere.

BEST will be asking Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) to conduct an inquiry in the distribution of power. “There had been misuse of the power distribution by the agents controlling the transmission cables, which needs to be looked into,’’ Gupta said.

`”We will let MERC decide whether we should purchase power at the excessive rate under such circumstances,” he said.

According to him, Tata Power would charge BEST Rs 13 per unit for electricity produced from Unit VI at Trombay.

Late last night the BEST had even said that the “lackadaisical attitude of Tata Power Company along with ulterior motives of poaching our consumers could be the scheme behind the current fiasco.”

On the other hand, Tata Power claimed if BEST had procured power from the oil and gas-fired 500-MC Unit 6, the distribution company would have been able to meet the shortage after the tripping and the city would have not faced load-shedding.

According to Tata Power, had it been running the gas-fired Unit 6 of 500 mw, then it could have met the supply shortage caused by tripping of Unit 5 which is coal-fired.

“We had activated initialisation activities of the 500-MW Unit 6, which we have kept on cold stand-by, with BEST’s consent. The state-run discom told us that they would not buy power from Unit-6 since it is costly and so we have not been generating power.

“If the plant was running, the city would not have faced load-shedding after the other unit tripped,” Tata Power Company’s (TPC) MD Anil Sardana told reporters on Wednesday.

He also said TPC procured power from its hydroelectric plant as well as activated initialisation of its cold stand-by Unit 6, which runs on oil and gas, to meet the shortfall.

However, BEST has claimed that even after the failure of Unit 5, it could have met the city’s load demand of 723 MW through bilateral purchase and a standby agreement.

Due to the failure of the unit, there was non-availability of 225 MW of power from the TPC. We need not to buy power from Unit 6, since it is very costly. We will have to pay Rs 13 per unit to buy power from Unit-6 and we don’t want to pass that burden onto our customers.

“So we have asked TPC to not to produce power from that unit,” BEST’s Gupta said today.

Gupta said TPC’s claim about cold standby is totally false and misleading, since the power to operate the grid elements including Unit 6 is not strictly under BEST’s purview, since power generated from this unit is not a part of the power purchase agreement that which BEST signed with TPC. Tata Power had proposed conversion of Unit 6 to a coal- fired plant, which it has not been able to do because of opposition from locals, Sardana said.

“We have received environmental clearance for the conversion, but what is needed is political will to do so. They claim that coal-based generation will lead to pollution, but carbon emission from oil is much higher than coal.

“Oil is costly and the government’s stand on gas for power plants makes it difficult for us to generate electricity through these fuels. So we want to convert it to a coal-fired plant,” Sardana said.

The company would have to invest around Rs 800 crore for the conversion which would take around 18 months, Sardana said, adding that there is a need to enhance the transmission system, which failed to draw additional 300 MW from external sources that resulted in load shedding.

BEST, however, said it is Tata Power’s responsibility to ensure generation and transmission.

“TPC has not provided sufficient redundancy for generation and transmission which led to the present situation of forced load-shedding,” Gupta said.

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