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Voltage demon wreaks havoc, utility blames ACs

Over the past couple of weeks, marked by a rising mercury level registering new highs of torment, the township has been plagued by wide voltage fluctuations in its electricity supply.

The Telegraph Salt Lake has been receiving complaints from residents about household appliances getting damaged by sudden alterations in voltage.

“My refrigerator stopped working and the electrician says it is because of voltage fluctuations,” said Shiuli Bose, a resident of IB Block. “I don’t know how I’ll keep food fresh in this heat without a fridge.”

A resident of AL Block, Supratim Jana, woke up perspiring one night despite going to bed with the AC on. “The AC stopped working because of repeated voltage fluctuations. I’ve never had such a problem in Salt Lake before but this year many neighbours are complaining of the same thing,” said Jana.

The situation got so serious in GD Block that the residents signed a joint petition addressed to West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDC) that is in charge of electricity supply in the township.

“After we sent the petition on May 15, they changed some cables and installed three transformer boxes. But the problem persisted,” said resident Arup Roy. “We held a meeting with them on June 4 where they assured us of action. But we are still waiting for results.”

Residents of DL Block are up in arms too. “The WBSEDC is supposed to supply households with 220 to 230 volts of power. They cannot allow the supply to fluctuate by more than five per cent,” says a retired electrical engineer of the block, requesting anonymity. “My neighbour’s AC conked off because of this.”

Officials at WBSEDC say they are flooded with complaints but point out that the residents have brought this condition upon themselves.

The reason they say is random installation of air-conditioners without prior intimation to the power utility.

“Anyone installing a new AC is supposed to inform us beforehand so we can upgrade our infrastructure. But hardly anyone does that. The existing system cannot handle the excess load of so many ACs in summer and this causes fluctuations,” said a divisional engineer of WBSEDC.

Once informed of new AC purchases, it takes WBSEDC between seven and 30 days to upgrade the cable line, so the engineer urges residents to inform them well before their purchase. “We are getting five to six applications these days but most people are informing us at the last minute. By the time the infrastructure is ready to take on the new load it will be monsoon and residents won’t be using their ACs,” said another engineer, adding that many houses have up to three or four unauthorised ACs.

Upgradation work should start in blocks like GD, FE, FD, HB, IB, Purbachal soon, he said.

Since awareness among residents is low and because some will be reluctant to pay extra to declare their ACs, some feel the WESEDC should take the initiative and catch the culprits. “They can understand which houses have installed ACs by studying their electricity bills. Any sudden hike in the bill is likely to mean an AC has been installed. They should step in and take action,” said the resident of DL Block.

As for appliances getting damaged, WESEDC engineers say one should stop using them during voltage fluctuations. “Use ACs with voltage stabilisers,” they say.

before you buy an ac

Inform the electricity office six weeks in advance

For this, visit the customer care department of WBSEDC:

  • For Sector I - DA 127
  • For Sector II - CF 261
  • For Sector III - LA A/1
  • Buy a load extension form.

Fill in details such as the type of the AC, its tonnage, existing load, etc. Inform them if you already have an AC, giving the year of purchase. Older ACs usually consume more electricity.

WBSEDC officials will visit your home to check whether the cable line has the capacity to bear the extra load. Otherwise the line will be changed, at your cost. The meter may also have to be changed from single phase to three phase if the load exceeds 6KW.

Find out the sum of the service connection charge and the security deposit for the load extension and pay up.