An exponential increase in the use of energy-intensive consumer appliances such as air-conditioners and inverters combined with a fast-expanding consumer base is placing enormous strain on the State electricity system that has not seen a substantial capacity addition in recent years.

In the Madurai region (five districts of Madurai, Dindigul, Theni, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram) of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), more than 1.83 lakh new domestic connections were added in just the last two years, sources told The Hindu .

Consumer base

From 18,83,886 in 2010, the domestic consumer base increased to 20,67,819 in 2012 with another 65,194 applications for domestic connections still pending in Madurai region. The number of high tension consumers increased from 569 in 2010 to 609 in 2012 with 20 applications pending.

Even with the implementation of severe load shedding, the maximum demand of TANGEDCO Madurai Region had grown steadily to 1,260 MW in 2012 from 1,124 MW in 2010.

The actual demand, without factoring in the load shedding, would be higher by at least another 175 MW to 200 MW, the sources added.

A major problem caused by high use of power-guzzling consumer appliances, a TANGEDCO official said, was the enormous strain it placed on the grid.

While applying for a service connection, the consumer would have mentioned only a load of only 1.5 kilowatt. However, in subsequent years, the consumer would have added microwave oven and expanded air conditioners to all the rooms besides installing inverters.

Reduced relief

“The use of an inverter drives up the current consumption by 1.3 times for every single house. This results in TANGEDCO getting reduced relief even when it resorts to load shedding,” the official added.

Now, even the use of centralised ACs has become common even at homes and the consumers do not inform the local TANGEDCO office. All of this places a higher-than-anticipated load on the local grid as this huge capacity addition had not been factored in while installing them.

Subsequently, the equipment deteriorates at a faster pace resulting in problems such as low voltage and voltage fluctuations.

With the TANGEDCO already having a huge debt burden in excess of Rs. 50,000 crore, it is short of the capital needed to replace the equipment, the official said.