The situation is particularly bad in north India, which had a deficit of 3,000 megawatts last month, as demand has soared due to the heat wave. But even in the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, distribution bottlenecks and scarce supply have hurt domestic and industrial consumers with power deficit rising to 4,350 mw in May, officials said.
Residents of Delhi and neighbouring areas are complaining of load sheddings, but the Association of Power Producers says the Capital is much better off than most other parts. "The southern region is facing load sheddings of 8-16 hours and many rural areas are going without electricity for days together. The way forward is resolving regulatory and policy issues in the sector," said Ashok Khurana, the association's director-general.
With coal supply stagnant and gas production sharply down, about 37,000 mw of capacity out of 178,000 mw monitored by the Central Electricity Authority has been shut down. This is primarily because of fuel shortage and partly due to plant maintenance.
"A significant amount of capacity is stranded due to non-availability of gas and coal. It is further getting impacted due to regulatory issues. Coal India has decided not to import coal," said Raaj Kumar, CEO, GMR Energy.
"The investment climate has suffered significantly, and this will hit growth in the power sector. State electricity boards do not have the ability to pay for power. Huge accumulated losses are leading to frequent load-shedding. The situation is gloomy," he said.
Most coal-fired power plants are operating at 60-70 per cent capacity as Coal India is supplying only 65 per cent of the requirement. The balance is met through e-auctions or imports, which are costly. Inefficient state utilities have aggravated the problem, industry officials said.
"There is power available in the market, but loss-making state electricity boards have no money to buy it. They do not want to increase their revenue gap," said K Rajagopal, CEO (energy division), Lanco Infratech.
Khurana of the Association of Power Producers said, "About 9,000 mw of gas-based projects have no fuel to be commissioned."