In a bid to avert power crisis being triggered in the country due to fuel shortages in the months following monsoon rains, the government proposes revise the coal stocking norms for thermal power plants, based on regular shift stock limits, depending on the actual fuel requirement during a particular period.
Sources said that the Central Electricity Authority will come up with revised coal stocking guidelines that will have higher stocking requirement for non-pit head power plants while lower for those located near the coal-bearing regions of the country.
As per a draft that is being discussed, against the uniform requirement of 20-22 day coal stocks to be maintained by power plants, lower coal stock of 10 days may be mandated for pit-head power plants while 20 days stock may be needed for power plants farther from coal-producing areas. But in the peak summer months (April-June), non-pit head plants would still require to stock 22 days of coal while pit head plants around 12 days. The norms of stocking may change slightly in winter months.
The thinking within the government is that the revised coal stocking norms will prevent a situation like the one that faced the country recently when post monsoons, several of the 135 coal-based power plants in the country were found to be sitting with critical coal stock levels sufficient to meet just three to four days of supply.
In fact, the shortages late last month and early this month pushed several state utilities to schedule power cuts to maintain a balance between demand and supply. Threats of complete power failure also lingered for some time. Even now, over 60 power plants have critical coal stocks levels.
"Relaxed coal stocking norms should also better distribution of the fuel amongst generating stations. This would prevent shortages and ensure uninterrupted power supply irrespective of the demand situation in the country," said an official source privy to the development.
Apart from lower stock holding norms, the changes in regulations would also require power plants to stock fuel only to meet generation requirement for 75 per cent of capacity and not 85 per cent or more. This would also lower the fuel requirement for each power plant and enable better distribution amongst all stations.