The KSEB Engineers Association on Tuesday launched a help desk to provide free technical assistance to domestic consumers in the State for selection, installation, and operation of rooftop solar panels.

Association president E. Mohammed Shereef told The Hindu on Thursday that trained engineers will provide free technical assistance to domestic consumers on the mobile number 9447325400.

Selected Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) engineers from all over the State completed a training programme in this connection in Ernakulam on Tuesday. The programme was inaugurated by KSEB Chief Engineer (Distribution-Central) V.V. Sathiya Rajan.

The gesture comes in the wake of the grim power situation in the State. Government agencies designated to popularise non-conventional and renewable energy sources have failed to take forward the task, says K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the association’s ‘Brightening Kerala’ energy conservation programme.

The average power consumption in Kerala is 55 million units a day and this is expected to increase to 60-65 million units in March 2013. Of this, 49 per cent of the energy is used by domestic consumers, Mr. Shereef pointed out.

George V. James, vice president of the association, says the Central and State governments have announced many attractive schemes for the domestic sector to install rooftop solar panels.

The Centre will provide a subsidy of Rs.81,000 per consumer and the State government a subsidy of 39.000.

But the main difficulty in taking forward the programme is lack of experts to provide technical advice to consumers on various aspects pertaining to solar energy. This includes the size and capacity of panels required by different consumers, life of the battery and panels, and the cost at various levels.

The association says the power demand on December 11 stood at 2,900 MW and the consumption at 55.67 million units.

The average consumption during this month stood in the vicinity of 55 million units a day.