The operational performance of power utilities remained tepid during the past year. Power demand had been falling since August 2019 as a result of shrinking industrial production, and the shutdown of commercial and industrial (C&I) activities due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown in March-April 2020 further affected demand. The decline in power consumption was also reflected in the low utilisation levels, measured by the plant load factor (PLF), of thermal power plants (TPPs). The average PLF of TPPs declined to 49.47 per cent in the month of October 2019, and hit an all-time low of 48.46 per cent (tentative) during the April-August 2020 period, mainly owing to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Meanwhile, the majority of state transmission utilities fared well in the past year, reporting a decline in transmission losses. Aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses of discoms reduced, although they are still above the targeted level of 15 per cent in most states.
Power Line presents an overview of the performance of utilities across the power sector during the past year…
The national PLF of TPPs stood at 55.99 per cent during 2019-20, a decrease of 4.31 percentage points from the 60.3 per cent recorded during 2018-19. The PLF for the April-August 2020 period stood at 48.46 per cent (tentative) vis-à-vis 59.17 per cent in the corresponding period in 2019.
Of the 34 utilities tracked by Power Line Research during 2019-20, nine reported an increase in PLF over the previous year. The highest PLF (at 95.85 per cent) was reported by Sasan Power Limited (SPL), which operates the 3,960 MW Sasan ultra mega power project in Madhya Pradesh, followed by Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) with a PLF of 87.54 per cent. SCCL operates the 1,200 MW Singareni TPP in Telangana.
Sector-wise, the central sector recorded the highest PLF during 2019-20. The average PLF of central sector-owned plants stood at 64.21 per cent, much lower than the 72.14 per cent recorded in the previous year. In the state sector, PLFs decreased to 50.24 per cent during 2019-20 from 57.16 per cent recorded a year ago. For private independent power producers, PLFs increased marginally from 53.89 per cent during 2018-19 to 54.32 per cent during 2019-20 while for private utilities PLFs increased from 61.34 per cent to 62.49 per cent during 2019-20.
Among central utilities, NTPC Limited recorded a PLF of 67.3 per cent during 2019-20, about 9 percentage points lower than its previous year’s record of 76.3 per cent. NTPC’s best performing plant during 2019-20 was the Rihand super thermal power station (STPS) in Uttar Pradesh, which recorded a PLF of 88.64 per cent, whereas the lowest PLF was recorded at its Barauni TPS in Bihar at 3.67 per cent. The Damodar Valley Corporation recorded a marginal increase of 0.36 percentage points in its PLF, from 59.05 per cent during 2018-19 to 59.41 per cent during 2019-20, whereas the PLF of NLC India Limited declined marginally from 70.96 per cent to 70.84 per cent during 2019-20.
At the state level, SCCL was the best performing utility with 87.54 per cent PLF during 2019-20, which is well above the average state sector PLF of 50.24 per cent as well as the national average. Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Limited was the second best performing state utility with a PLF of 70.66 per cent, followed by Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Limited (TVNL) with a PLF of over 65.61 per cent and CSPGCL with a PLF of 65.54 per cent during 2019-20. Only three state utilities – SCCL, TVNL and Andhra Pradesh Power Development Company Limited – recorded an increase in PLF during 2019-20 vis-à-vis 2018-19 and the rest reported a decline or maintained generation at the the previous year’s level. Meanwhile, the biggest drop in PLF was reported by Odisha Power Generation Corporation Limited. The PLF declined by 27.29 percentage points from 83.86 per cent during 2018-19 to 56.57 per cent during 2019-20. Both Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited and Madhya Pradesh Power Generating Company Limited reported a decline in PLF by over 20 percentage points.
In the private sector, PLFs varied widely from 26 per cent to 96 per cent. Adani Power Limited, Jindal India Thermal Private Limited, Sasan Power Limited, Essar Power Gujarat Limited and Tata Power (Trombay TPS) witnessed an increase in PLFs during the review period. Seven private utilities reported PLFs higher than the national average. These were Adani Power Limited, CESC Limited, Coastal Gujarat Power Limited, JSW Energy Limited, Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (formerly Reliance Infrastructure – Generation), Sasan Power Limited and Torrent Power Limited (Sabarmati TPP). All other private sector utilities registered a decline in their PLFs. The highest decline was reported by Essar Power Madhya Pradesh Limited, which saw its PLF go down from 40.88 per cent during 2018-19 to 31.13 per cent during 2019-20.
The performance of state transmission utilities improved during 2019-20 and utilities tracked by Power Line Research reported transmission losses in the range of 1.19 per cent (Power Transmission Corporation of Uttarakhand Limited) to 4 per cent (Meghalaya Power Transmission Corporation Limited) during 2019-20. Of the 19 utilities for which data is available for 2019-20, 13 utilities registered a decline in their transmission losses during 2019-20 over the previous year, while four registered an increase (Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited, Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company Limited, Power Transmission Corporation of Uttarakhand Limited and West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company Limited) and two utilities (Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Limited and Meghalaya Power Transmission Corporation Limited) did not register any change. Among the utilities tracked, Power Transmission Corporation of Uttarakhand Limited reported the least transmission losses at 1.19 per cent, followed by Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited and Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited with 2.08 per cent and 2.25 per cent of transmission losses respectively. The Madhya Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation, West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company, Transmission Corporation of Telangana Limited and Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh are other state utilities that recorded losses of 2-3 per cent during 2019-20.
The majority of transcos reported losses in the range of 3-4 per cent including state utilities of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. The transco with the highest loss of 4 per cent was the Meghalaya Power Transmission Corporation.
Data was collated by Power Line Research for 58 discoms (49 state-owned distribution utilities and nine private utilities) from tariff orders, the UDAY portal and company reports. It is observed that among the state utilities, AT&C losses ranged from as low as 4.65 per cent for Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Limited (UGVCL) to as high as 60.8 per cent for the Jammu & Kashmir Power Development Department (JKPDD) during 2019-20. A total of 32 state utilities reported a decline in AT&C losses during 2019-20 vis-à-vis 2018-19. The most significant improvements were reported by Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited (MePDCL), Andhra Pradesh Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (APSPDCL), Madhya Pradesh Poorv Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran Company Limited (MP Poorv), Gulbarga Electricity Supply Company Limited (GESCOM) and Hubli Electricity Supply Company Limited (HESCOM), which reported a decline of 10-20 percentage points in AT&C losses.
Among the state utilities, UGVCL was the best performer with AT&C losses of 4.65 per cent during 2019-20. In addition, 15 state-owned utilities reported/estimated AT&C losses of less than 15 per cent during 2019-20. These are Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company Limited (DGVCL), Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Limited (MGVCL), Mangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (MESCOM), Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEBL), the Goa Power Department, Southern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Limited (TSSPDCL), Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Company Limited (CESCOM), Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM), Eastern Power Distribution Company of Andhra Pradesh Limited (APEPDCL), APSPDCL, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company Limited (TANGEDCO), Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL), Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), GESCOM and HESCOM.
The worst performers during 2019-20 were JKPDD and Purvanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Limited (PuVVNL) with AT&C losses of 60.8 and 37.98 per cent respectively. Six state discoms recorded AT&C losses of above 30 per cent. These were JKPDD, PuVVNL, Dakshinanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (DVVNL), Madhya Pradesh Madhya Kshetra Vidyut Vitran Company Limited, Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (JBVNL) and Southern Electricity Supply Company of Odisha Limited (SOUTHCO).
Meanwhile, private sector discoms continued to report a steady performance with losses of less than 10 per cent over the past couple of years. Tata Power Mumbai’s AT&C losses during 2019-20 were less than 2 per cent. BSES Yamuna Power Limited’s (BYPL) AT&C losses stood at 8.65 per cent in 2019-20, declining from 10.36 per cent during 2018-19; although TPDDL’s AT&C losses increased marginally from 7.89 per cent to 7.93 per cent. The AT&C loss for India Power remained constant at 3 per cent. The other private discoms (which reported T&D or distribution losses during the review period) also improved their performance during 2019-20. The distribution losses of Torrent Power-Surat (3.64 per cent) and Adani Electricity Mumbai (7.37 per cent) were lower than those in 2018-19, while the of BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) (9.5 per cent) and Torrent Power-Ahmedabad (6.7 per cent) increased slightly over the past year.
Overall, power utilities have seen a downturn in their operational performance as a result of Covid-19. The generation segment has been further weighed down by low power demand. Electricity distribution was already the weakest link in the electricity value chain, plagued by low collection and billing efficiency. The pandemic has further aggravated its woes owing to liquidity constraints and a dip in revenue collection. However, the government’s proactive measures, such as the Rs 900 billion liquidity infusion package to discoms under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, have lent some support to the sector in these difficult times. The move to privatise discoms in union territories is another step in the right direction and would encourage more state discoms to look at privatisation for improving operational performance.