Power minister Aroop Biswas on Tuesday said the state power utility has launched a campaign to make people aware that the use of air-conditioners should be commensurate with the load sanctioned for their electric meters.
A problem that has emerged as the biggest suspect behind power outages in parts of the city — served by CESC — this summer is also plaguing urban pockets served by the state power utility, West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited.
Autorickshaws are touring across neighbourhoods on the city’s outskirts with the message to make judicious use of electrical gadgets if the meter could not bear the load. TV commercials are urging people to declare consumption beyond the sanctioned load.
Minister Biswas held a news conference on Tuesday to share the state’s power generation capacity and the consumption load.
According to Biswas, people can use as many air-conditioners, refrigerators and other electrical appliances as they please, but they must inform the state power utility about the extra consumption so the sanctioned load of their electric meters could be upgraded.
“We have no problem if a house has multiple air-conditioners, refrigerators or washing machines. All we are saying is that people need to notify us about the extra consumption so that we can carry out load enhancement in the respective homes. This will ensure that the safety mechanisms installed in transformers and supply lines don’t trip,” said Biswas.
Biswas later told Metro that they have released audio messages and TV commercials to create awareness about judicious use of electrical appliances. “Audio messages and TV commercials are effective. We are using them to create awareness,” he said.
Officials in the state power department told this newspaper that all its power station managers have been asked to oversee the awareness drive in their respective areas.
The highest peak demand ever faced by the state-run power utility in Bengal is 9,200MW, on June 8, the minister said. Before this, the highest peak demand was 9,024MW, recorded on April 18.
CESC recorded a peak demand of 2,503MW on April 18, the highest it has ever faced.
This newspaper has reported power outages across the city every time there was a heat wave-like condition. Most of the complaints were from areas served by the private utility CESC, which serves Kolkata and parts of the neighbouring districts.
CESC engineers have said the primary reason for the electrical trips was power consumption beyond the sanctioned load.
Tuesday was possibly the first time the state utility announced that they, too, were facing the same problem.
Minister Biswas said on Tuesday that many people had installed extra air-conditioners and other appliances because of the heat but did not declare the additional consumption.
“Imagine a neighbourhood that has around a dozen houses and four of them have not applied for load enhancements but are running multiple appliances on the same electric supply set-up. This is bound to cause trips on the transformers’ safety mechanisms and that, in turn, will lead to a power outage in the entire neighbourhood,” the minister said.
The state power utility caters to around 2.22 crore consumers across the state, including pockets of Kolkata and its vicinity such as Salt Lake, New Town, Tollygunge, Garia and Bansdroni.
Biswas said the state had not faced any problem in meeting the increased demand because the power generation has increased, too.