As Delhi suffers, discoms pulled up for not buying power in advance

As Delhi continues to face a power crisis due to shortages in coal and water, government sources said the city's private power distribution companies could have made short-term arrangements to ensure regular supply of electricity.

According to a Power department official, the discoms had the option of making short-term arrangements by purchasing power a day ahead from the power exchange, a private body where short-term power purchases are made.

However, they did not do this, citing a Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission order. The order stated that they could not buy from the exchange if the price per unit of power exceeded Rs 5, the official said. Given the current coal situation, the price on the exchange had gone up to Rs 8 or above.

"When overdrawing from the northern grid, the price of purchasing power goes up if the frequency is down, as it has been for the past few days. There was a time, over the weekend, when discoms were buying power for nearly Rs 17 a unit but this could have been avoided if they had bought power a day in advance. The DERC has said they would reimburse them if they did this," a senior government source explained. When asked about this, DERC chairman P D Sudhakar said that its order on buying from the exchange was not a blanket one and the companies are allowed to make advance plans.

"Given that it is a peculiar situation, the companies could have made a plan to buy power in advance and they could have just informed us about it. If the situation demands, then we can't be so unreasonable as to disallow it," he added.

A senior BSES official responded to this saying the problem was with the power generating companies, the long term suppliers of power, and that discoms could not be expected to resort to short-term measures that would burden the consumers.

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