By Mary Honey, Research Associate, CPPR
I am not a typical cynic who always opposes new government initiates by providing false and useless statements. But sometimes I have raised questions to get a clear cut answer. I was wondering the durability of the efforts done by the ‘most efficient’ Kerala State Electricity Board in bringing out the new initiatives for energy conservation.
Recently on 23rd March 2013 the Kerala State Electricity Board switched to “Labhaprabha” the brand new name set up for its energy conservation scheme which lasts till 31st May through its first phase. This scheme which was meant for domestic consumers, guaranteed gifts and other incentives for saving electricity. The first step towards participating in the scheme was to get oneself registered. For this one need to send the SMS with the following details ,KSEB <space> Section code <space> Consumer number to 9287088808.The participant will immediately be informed of his/her average consumption through SMS and phase by phase instructions as to when meter readings should be taken and tips for saving energy send through SMS. If the consumer wins prizes, he/she will be intimated via SMS.
The energy credits programme is proposed to address all 85 lakh domestic consumers in the State. Half of the earnings made through savings under the scheme will either be returned to consumer or rewards of equivalent value made available to him/her. The KSEB declared rewards for up to Rs2 crore as part of the Labha Prabha campaign These include 50,000 compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs every week, solar lamps for every 1,000 consumers, table lamps, light emitting diode (LED) tubes and bulbs, water heaters, and T-5 tube lights. The bumper prize will be in the form of a 1-kilowatt (KW) solar installation (Rs1.25 crore) for the first 100 consumers who make maximum energy savings.
The KSEB is also launching another campaign - ‘No Loadshedding Campaign’ under which consumer groups like residents’ associations can escape from the loadshedding by saving electricity. Places coming under any of the KSEB feeders will be exempted from power restrictions if consumption is reduced by at least 10 per cent.
Statistics shows that 8532111 domestic consumers comes under this scheme, 1221370 domestic consumers are out of this scheme because of bad meter ,while 1177276 and 44094 single phase meter and 3phase meter respectively does not work. This is also a major issue to be addressed along with this scheme and campaign.
Conditions like weather extremes, size of family, change in living habit, use of old or defective appliances etc influence the high consumption of electricity in every household. While, these are some of the factors that are not under the control of KSEB, the Board need to proactively engage in its duty of distributing power. People in Kerala are already facing power disruption for 2 hours daily with prior information from KSEB and without information many a times in between the day; owing to lack of pro-activeness and planning.
But is this camouflaging the inefficiencies of KSEB? It is the responsibility of the government to provide electricity as per demand for reasonable price. But it seems like we are all extravagant in misusing the power KSEB providing us for free. Needless to say the KSEB fail’s to plan and supply according to consumer requirements needs. Just compare the developmental projects/malls/industries that was set up in the state within last 5 years, and can see the gigantic boost that transformed the state into a commercial center. These developments and its related issues like shortage of electricity should have been foreseen by the KSEB and must adopt the required strategies to rise above the concern.
Though Kerala gets abundant rainfall every year, the state cannot wholly depend on hydro electric projects as during summer, water in dams and reservoirs will get dried up and generators will not work. Maybe ‘Right to Electricity’ can be seen effective if the state monopoly of electricity is been privatized! Electricity for every household will be inclusive only if KSEB would be able to provide ample electricity (Though it should not be KSEB all the time). The government must encourage with the new innovative ideas and solutions from the private parties for solving the energy crisis and thus can put an end to the KSEB model of solving energy crisis by providing free ‘ power cuts’ all the day