A transmission pylon holds power from an electrical substation being under construction by Svenska Kraftnat in Danderyd, Sweden. (Photographer: Mikael Sjoberg/Bloomberg)

Power Producers Outstanding Dues Surge 63% In March

The outstanding dues of power producers on distribution utilities soared 63 percent year-on-year to Rs 38,696 crore in March 2019, reflecting stress in the sector.

The distribution companies owed a total of Rs 23,699 crore to power generation companies in March last year, according to PRAAPTI or payment ratification and analysis in power procurement for bringing transparency in involving of generators’ portal.

The portal was launched in May 2018 to bring in transparency in power purchase transactions between generators and discoms.

In March this year, total overdue amount, which was not cleared even after 60 days of grace period offered by generators, stood at Rs 24,689 crore against Rs 15,585 crore a year ago.

Power producers give 60 days to discoms for paying bills for the supply of electricity. After that the outstanding becomes overdue and generators charge penal interest on that in most of the cases.

However, the data on the portal indicates that the outstanding, as well as overdue amount, have decreased over the preceding month. In February 2019, the total outstanding on discoms was Rs 41,281 crore, while the total overdue amount was Rs 25,532 crore.

Discoms in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir account for the major portion of dues to power generating companies, taking a longer duration of up to 667 days to make payments, the portal showed.

Bihar and Rajasthan top the list with 667 days to make payments, followed by Andhra Pradesh (665 days), Haryana (665) days), Madhya Pradesh (652 days), Telangana (645 days) Karnataka (639 days), Tamil Nadu (638 days) and Jammu and Kashmir (634 days).

Overdues of independent power producers amount to over 52 percent of the total overdue of Rs 24,689 crore on discoms.

Among the public sector power generators, National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. alone has an overdue amount of Rs 9,368 crore on discoms, while NHPC Ltd. has Rs 1,277 crore and Damodar Valley Corporation at Rs 545 crore.

Discoms owe the highest overdue of Rs 3,539 crore to Adani Power followed by GMR at 1,888 crore and Bajaj Group-owned Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd. at Rs 1,822 crore among private generators.

To address delayed payments by discoms, a high-level committee headed by Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha had recommended that public finance institutions, such as REC Ltd. and Power Finance Corporation Ltd., may discount the receivables from discoms and make an upfront payment to the generators. Against that, the public finance institutions will realise their dues from discoms in due course of time and charge interest for the period of delay in payment by discoms.

In the case of a default by discoms, the public finance institutions be covered with a tripartite agreement with the Reserve Bank of India and the states, where the central bank can deduct the money directly from the accounts of a state and pay the financial institution. NTPC Ltd. has a similar mechanism with the states and the RBI against default by discoms.

The government had constituted a group of ministers headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to vet the recommendations of the Sinha Committee. However, the GoM accepted all recommendations of the panel except related to discounting of discoms bills and reviving gas-based stranded power plants.