After PM’s call, energy authorities make plans

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for switching off electric lights at homes across the nation for nine minutes at 9 p.m. on April 5, as a mark of demonstrating a collective will to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, has prompted energy authorities to swing into action.

The Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), which runs the national load despatch centre, got in touch with all the regional load despatch centres, which, in turn, asked constituent-States to prepare plans for managing the power supply position in their States for the purpose. This led senior officials of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) and Transmission Corporation (Tantransco) to discuss details of the plan that was being finalised, one of the officials said.

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Mr. Modi’s call pertains only to the domestic lighting load and does not cover electricity consumption by the domestic category on account of use of refrigerators or air-conditioners or television sets, the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, observed.

Energy industry officials added that the move is not likely to cause any major disruption in the power distribution system.

As a thumb rule, lighting constitutes 50% of the domestic sector’s overall load.

If you take Tamil Nadu, for instance, the share of domestic consumers in overall electricity consumption is about 18%. At the all-India level, it is 24%, according to “Energy Statistics 2019,” a document published by the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. This is why the situation is manageable, point out the experts.

Even now, the ongoing 21-day lockdown has resulted in a perceptible reduction in peak demand. Compared to the country’s evening peak demand of about 1.56 lakh megawatt (MW) a month ago, the present demand according to the POSOCO is about 1.2 lakh MW.

In the wake of the Prime Minister’s call, the demand may go down by a maximum of 20,000 MW during the nine-minute period. In India, the evening peak demand is measured at what is recorded at 7 p.m. every day.

An official said that Tamil Nadu may see a maximum drop of 2,000 MW in demand during the nine-minute-period, after which there would likely be a surge. Regulating the operation of several distribution feeders and keeping ready hydel reservoirs (which can generate 650 MW almost instantaneously) and gas-powered stations were among the measures being planned by the Tangedco.

One more reason for the assessment of the experts is the presence of an all-India grid, which comes handy in transferring power seamlessly from one region to another and maintaining the frequency of the country’s power network at about 50 Hz.

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