Discoms’ outstanding dues to power gencos rise nearly 24% to ₹1.36 lakh crore in December

Total dues owed by electricity distribution companies to power producers rose nearly 24% to ₹1,36,966 crore in December 2020 compared to the same month a year ago, reflecting stress in the sector.

The distribution companies (discoms) owed a total of ₹1,10,660 crore to power generation firms in December 2019, according to portal PRAAPTI (Payment Ratification And Analysis in Power procurement for bringing Transparency in Invoicing of generators).

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

In December 2020, the total overdue amount, which was not cleared even after 45 days of grace period offered by generators, stood at ₹1,27,498 crore as against ₹97,835 crore in the year-ago period.

According to the latest data on the portal, total outstanding dues in December dipped on a month-on-month basis. In November 2020, the total outstanding dues of discoms stood at ₹1,40,741 crore.

The overdue amount in December 2020 has decreased from ₹1,27,539 crore in November 2020.

Power producers give 45 days to discoms to pay bills for electricity supply. After that, outstanding dues become overdue and generators charge penal interest on that in most cases.

To give relief to power generation companies (gencos), the Centre enforced a payment security mechanism from August 1, 2019. Under this mechanism, discoms are required to open letters of credit for getting power supply.

The Central government had also given some breathers to discoms for paying dues to power generating companies in view of the COVID-19-induced lockdown. The government had also waived penal charges for late payment of dues in the directive.

In May, the government announced ₹90,000 crore liquidity infusion for discoms under which these utilities would get loans at economical rates from Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and REC Ltd.

This was a government initiative to help gencos to remain afloat. Later, the liquidity infusion package was increased to ₹1.2 lakh crore.

Discoms in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana and Tamil Nadu account for the major portion of dues to power gencos, the data showed.

Overdue of independent power producers amount to 32.14% of the total overdue of ₹1,27,498 crore of discoms in December. The proportion of central PSU gencos in the overdue was 33.57%.

Among the central public sector power generators, NTPC alone has an overdue amount of ₹17,946.97 crore on discoms, followed by Damodar Valley Corporation at ₹6,682.61 crore, NLC India at ₹6,123.78 crore, NHPC at ₹3,141.43 crore and THDC India at ₹2,022.23 crore.

Among private generators, discoms owe the highest overdue of ₹16,878.25 crore to Adani Power followed by Bajaj Group-owned Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd at ₹4,462.10 crore, SEMB (Sembcorp) at ₹2,735.62 crore and GMR at ₹2,195.12 crore. The overdue of non-conventional energy producers like solar and wind stood at ₹12,117.78 crore in December.

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