A senior MahaGenco official said while the model was at the drawing board stage, they planned to retain the asset ownership with the utility itself while asking the private players to run the unit operations with the profit sharing between the private operator and MahaGenco based on the increase in the plant load factor (PLF) trajectory.
"The franchisee may be in a more comfortable position to get better quality coal," the official said, adding that the operators would also have to move the regulators to get their tariffs approved.
The MahaGenco is locked in a tussle with the public sector coal companies over quantity and poor quality of coal supplies, which it claims has affected generation.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MahaVitaran) has set the distribution franchisee model in motion by allocating areas with high distribution losses to private parties for power supply and billing operations. Apart from reducing the distribution loss, the franchisee is also required to upgrade the power distribution infrastructure and improve billing efficiency.
The official said the utility had shut down thermal power sets that were around 40 years old with a derated installed capacity of 820 MW due to technological obsolesce and the state power regulators not approving the high rates of power generated from these old units. He said these units could also be given out to the franchisees.
The MahaVitaran had, in January 2007, appointed Torrent Power as the distribution franchisee for the textile town of Bhiwandi in Thane district for 10 years. The city then had high losses of 44 per cent and billing efficiency of 67 per cent, which MahaVitaran officials said has since improved. Later, three divisions in Nagpur urban circle (Mahal, Gandhibagh and Civil Lines) and two divisions in Aurangabad (Aurangabad I and II) were also handed over to the distribution franchisees and the process of handing over Jalgaon to a franchisee has also been initiated.
MahaVitaran officials said despite some supply problems in Nagpur during monsoons, the distribution model had helped generate revenues for the utility.
The MahaGenco has a total of 9,737 MW installed capacity as on October 12, 2011, with thermal power (66.55 per cent) making up the bulk with 6,480 MW followed by hydro power 2,585 MW (26.54 per cent) and gas 672 MW (6.9 per cent). Of the 6,480 MW thermal capacity, a total of 14 sets are over 25 years old, five units between 15 and 24 years old, three between 10 and 14 years and only four units in operation for below 10 years. According to Central Electricity Authority (CEA) norms, the life span of thermal power sets is 25 years.
Source- Indian Express