Kerala’s cost for purchasing power could increase two-fold, as it is dependent on other states for at least 75 per cent of its requirement at time when India’s coal stocks are at critical levels.
Kerala, in financial year 2020-21, consumed 22,000 lakh crore units of power, procuring 78 per cent of it from other states. Complicating the state’s task, peak consumption time increased from 6 pm to 11 pm in a year compared to 10 pm before. For the last few weeks, the state has reportedly seen a decline in purchase from other states of around 300-500 MW.
If the crisis persists, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) may have to purchase power at Rs 18-20 per unit compared to around Rs 6 per unit now. According to the available data, the state’s dues to power producers was at Rs 1,054 crore in early October. The state has asked domestic and commercial consumers to clear power bills, moving away from a policy of not pursuing collections aggressively after lockdowns to contain the coronavirus,
The state normally collects 99 per cent of demand notices, but arrears had increased to over Rs 1,400 crore this year.
As part of an awareness campaign, the state is urging its consumers to finish work in daytime and reduce the usage of higher power-consuming electrical equipment. There were also demands to put additional charges on consumers for use of more than 500 units of power.
Kerala has only one entity, KSEB, in charge of the generation, transmission and distribution of power. It is dependent on 31 hydroelectric projects, seven solar projects, two diesel power plants and one wind farm for around 20 per cent of its power requirement. In order to reduce its dependence on other states for power, Kerala has lined up plans to come up with 3,000 megawatt of renewable power facilities in the next five years. This includes 2000 MW in solar, 450 MW in wind, 450 MW in hydel and around 100 MW from other renewable sources.
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