Bhubaneswar, March 4: A smile will soon light up faces in the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation’s finance department. An energy-efficient smile.
The city is set to have energy efficient street lights within six to seven months, courtesy a Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) project that will use a number of devices to reduce power consumption and save the BMC money.
“Among other things, electronic devices to minimise power consumption, meters to gauge the units consumed, and dimmers to reduce intensity of power after midnight will be used,” said state urban development secretary Injeti Srinivas. Lighting will also be monitored during daytime.
The increasing energy expense on street lights had made civic authorities worried. Two-and-half-years ago, the monthly power bill used to be Rs 35 lakh. This has now touched Rs 72 lakh. The annual expense comes to around Rs 8.64 crore. The ever-increasing tariff structure and addition of new street light projects are causing the escalation.
“The BMC had submitted a project report to the state government. Following that, a request for bidding proposal was floated. Interested bidders had a meeting today. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a wing of the World Bank, is transaction advisor for the project,” said Srinivas.
In the past, the BMC has launched pilot projects for street lights involving light emitting diodes and solar-powered lights. The present project will be for 10 years and cover the entire area under the jurisdiction of the BMC.
The energy saving company (ESCo) to be roped in should at least have the capacity to reduce the power bill by 30 per cent. But BMC officials hope that the company will reduce the burden up to 50 per cent.
The urban development secretary clarified that reduction of the power bill would not mean low-quality lighting.
“Poor lighting can lead to low visibility. Often, the quality of street lighting is poor and maintenance is inadequate. There are so many poles where the lights can be found burned out. The existing system consumes a large amount of energy. Costs naturally go up,” said a senior BMC official.
“While the project will engage a third party independent assessor to judge the performance of the company that wins the bid, citizens’ inputs will also be taken note of,” said the official.
The survey conducted by IFC has identified nearly 14,000 light posts that need efficient management so that the increasing amount on the BMC’s power bills is reduced.
“The holding tax collection has seen a drastic dip because of various legal complications. This year it might be below Rs 20 crore, whereas it should have been around Rs 30 crore. Solid waste management costs are also increasing. So, efficient management of the power bill will definitely help the civic body in spending public money on other projects,” said a senior officer of the BMC’s finance department.
Municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra said in its annual budget for 2013-14, the BMC had allocated Rs 5 crore as a corpus for energy efficient street-lighting system in the city.
More funds would be allocated as supplementary budgetary provisions.
Ajit Kumar Behera, assistant engineer (electrical) of the BMC, said: “We have the survey report on the street lights. So, in the first phase stretches where power consumption is the maximum will be taken up. Later, all other street lights will be incorporated in phases.”
In September 2011, BMC had signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Finance Corporation to prepare the detailed project report.
The report contained a number of features to decrease the consumption of electricity through energy conservation. It suggested installation of timer machines on electric poles to conserve energy.
The timer machines would enable the street lights to be switched on and off automatically.
The report also suggested the use of dimmers to conserve energy. These are used to manage lighting level and help control the illumination level in the early morning and early evening hours.
This apart, the report also stated that energy efficient transformers along with light-emitting diode bulbs would replace the older ones.
“We often spend unnecessary electricity on street lights. The detailed project report has taken into account the requirement of street lights in various areas. There are many areas, where the number of lightposts are more than required. The report has focused on the amount of lighting required on busy streets and streets with sparse vehicle movement,” a senior officer of the civic body had said then.