Only when the electricity generation matches the actual demand and the consumption level remains within a perceptible limit, the present crisis in the power sector could be overcome, said K. Kamaraj, Executive Engineer (Cuddalore), Tangedco.

He was speaking at the seminar on “Power tariff and consumers” jointly organised by consumer groups here on Tuesday.

Mr. Kamaraj recalled that in 1950 the power generation in Tamil Nadu was a meagre 150MW but then the Electricity Board was, in fact, looking for consumers.

But now, there was a phenomenal increase in power consumption to the extent of 12,500MW. A situation had now arisen in which the Tangedco, in certain cases, was not even entertaining applications for new power connections.

For instance, at places like Coimbatore the Tangedco was turning down the requests for new connections.

Mr. Kamaraj admitted that because of the unscheduled power cuts and uncertainty over the supply status, the Tangedco had drawn flak from the consumers across all sectors.

Responding to criticism that there was lack of transparency on the part of the Tangedco about the supply-demand position, Mr. Kamaraj said that the demand for power had increased manifold, well beyond the anticipated level.

The households which had earlier used only lights and fans had now acquired so many electronic and electric gadgets. Therefore, as a natural corollary the question often posed was why the Tangedco failed to scale up power generation.

Mr. Kamaraj said it was due to the prohibitively high cost involved in setting up the power project and environmental concerns. It would require an investment of Rs. 650 crore for setting up of one MW power plant and again it would take five years to generate power.

Setting up of mini-power plants of 3 to 5MW capacity would be unviable. “If Tamil Nadu has to become self-sufficient in power generation it should have an installed power generation capacity of 17,000MW, which would be 30 per cent over and above the present demand of 12,500MW,” he said.

Therefore, Mr. Kamaraj concluded that only when the Tangedco, the government and the consumers in their totality work in tandem the power situation could be effectively addressed.

S. Saroja of the Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group, Chennai, in her speech said that the grave power situation had aggravated the unemployment problem, drastically cut the income generation avenues, stunted the industrial growth and considerably eroded the standard of living.

She said that the consumers would not be against tariff hike, provided the Tangedco assures uninterrupted quality power. M. Nizamudeen, general secretary of the Consumer Federation Tamil Nadu (Confet), elaborately dwelt on the ways and means of getting redress for power-related complaints.

For instance, new power connections should be provided within 60 days of application and a faulty meter should be replaced within 30 days of payment of the requisite charges, he said.

Balki, consultant, Confet, also spoke.