Q: The MahaVitaran is struggling for its survival and if not revived, the state may face outages. What is your take?
A: The MahaVitaran with about 3 crore consumers and annual revenues of Rs 85,000 crore is ranked second biggest discom in whole of Asia. However, amid mounting arrears and liabilities, it faces a number of challenges. Its dues from various consumers during the BJP government have shot up to Rs 59,833 crore in 2019-20 from Rs 23,224 crore. It was because of the BJP government’s decision not to recover the pending dues that adversely impacted the MahaVitaran’s finances. A section of consumers stopped paying even the current monthly bills. The arrears rose to Rs 71,243 crore in 2021 and Rs 73,879 crore in 2021-22.
Q: How fast recovery be done to give MahaVitaran a much-needed financial stability?
A: The recovery will be done in a transparent manner. I appeal to the consumers to regularly pay current monthly bills and they can pay dues in suitable installments. Of the total arrears, about Rs 8,000 crore were towards public water supply and street lights payable by the Rural Development and Urban Development Departments respectively. I have urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to direct them for early clearance of dues. At the same time, I have requested the CM to provide at least Rs 1,000 crore per month till these dues are cleared. Further, I have appealed to the CM to increase the allocation towards subsidies given in electricity tariff charged to agriculture and powerlooms.
In order to assess how much power has been consumed by the agriculture consumers, the MahaVitaran will install smart meters for these consumers along with others. The MahaVitaran is committed to the uninterrupted, reliable and assured power supply and working hard for its revival.
Q: Disruption in coal supply by the Central undertakings has impacted the generation. How MahaGenco is combating the situation?
A: MahaGenco has installed generation capacity of 13,000mw. Of which the thermal generation is 7,500 mw and for that MahaGenco needs daily 1.35 lakh metric tonnes of coal but it has been drastically reduced at present to 70,000 metric tonnes. This has brought down thermal generation to 4,000 to 4,500 mw forcing MahaVitaran to procure power from the market at higher rates. The state government has urged the Centre that the central coal mining companies should be told to do advanced planning for production to avoid shortages especially during and after the rainy season. The MahaGenco could save generation cost by 30 to 40 paise per unit as its generating units are operating on Merit Order Dispatch.
Q: What is happening on renewable energy front?
A: The government proposes to increase the renewable energy capacity to 17,360 mw of transmission system connected power projects by 2025. The RE capacity addition will help provide power to the agriculture consumers during the daytime which has been a long-pending demand.