With summer setting in and outages becoming a way of life across the country, Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal has come up with a 'shocker' when he said on Wednesday that he saw that electricity was available at zero rupee per unit at the Power Grid's Monitoring Office.
Speaking during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, the minister said power was so surplus that people were willing to give it at no cost per unit because there is no other way to use it.
Meanwhile, the government on Thursday said there is sufficient power available while urging states to buy it from exchanges even as some parts of the country grapple with shortages. Goyal said that most areas of the country have excess power and added that states should buy electricity from exchanges or through power purchase agreements.
He said that the sad part is that states are not acquiring or buying enough to be able to pass on uninterrupted supply to the citizens.
The minister suggested that new gas-based power plants should not be set up as many existing ones are stranded.
"I would rather say that they (states) set up a solar plant on that same land rather than going in for a gas-based plant," Goyal who holds independent charge of the portfolios of power, coal and new and renewable energy, said.
He exuded confidence that India would stop importing thermal coal in the next one or two years as the domestic coal production is increasing. Goyal said: "Overall coal production has risen by 8.3 per cent while in the first 28 days of April this year, Coal India's output went up by 10.2 per cent." The minister said: "We are confident that in the next year or two, we will be able to stop imports of thermal coal while imports of coking coal will continue till we are able to explore more reserves."
Responding to a question on high solar energy prices, he said the government is working on innovative financing models to reduce its cost from about Rs 7 at present to less than Rs 5 per unit. Goyal said that 114 units of under-construction thermal power projects with an aggregate capacity of 57,125 MW are running behind schedule.
He said the figures are based on information given by project developers to the Central Electricity Authority and added that eight coal-based thermal generating units with an aggregate capacity of 1,150 MW are closed for renovation and modernisation/life-extension works.
(With PTI inputs)