46,000 MW power projects facing viability issues: Crisil

New Delhi :Power projects with around 46,000 MW capacity are facing viability issues due to lack of long-term purchase agreements, inadequate fuel supply and aggressive bidding to win projects, says a Crisil report.

Out of this 46,000 MW, about 36,000 MW are coal-based projects within which tariff under-recovery has impacted 20,000 MW of capacities, while the rest are reeling because of inadequate feedstock and poor electricity offtake by discoms, the rating agency said in a release.

The remaining 10,000 MW of gas-based projects have become unviable because of dwindling fuel supplies from the Krishna-Godavari basin.

“Total loans to these stressed generation projects are currently about Rs 2.1 lakh crore. A sixth of it, or about Rs 35,000 crore, is for projects which have the cushion of a strong parent.

“Additionally, projects with loans of Rs 1 lakh crore could become viable if their payment profiles can be structured appropriately. This leaves the remaining Rs 75,000 crore of loans at risk,” said Chief Analytical Officer, Crisil Ratings Pawan Agrawal in the statment.

Another Rs 1.9 lakh crore of debt is owed by weak discoms for which moratorium on principal repayment based on a financial restructuring package (FRP) announced in 2012 — ends in the current and next fiscal. Till date, the government support has prevented these discoms from turning weak, it added.

Assurance of continuing financial support is necessary, else this debt, too, can be at risk. After the FRP, states and discoms did not follow through fully with measures to improve financial discipline and commercial orientation. The FRP, thus, provided only a liquidity respite.

Discoms will continue to face liquidity pressure till there are appropriate tariff hikes and a significant reduction in aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses from the current level of 25.4 per cent.

Crisil believes significant efforts to augment domestic coal production and improvement in the ability of discoms to sign long-term PPAs are critical going forward.

While the government has taken some positive steps to improve fuel availability through coal block auctions and gas subsidy, these provide only limited relief and the plant load factor of capacities commissioned after fiscal 2009 will remain sub-optimal at 45 per cent.