Coimbatore

Diesel generators drive up costs for many households in the city as power plays truant

ADDITIONAL BURDEN: Load shedding has led ot dependence on generators for power back-up. The cost of diesel to keep these functioning for close to 10 hours a day is pushing up charges for maintenance in apartments and for commercial sector services that require uninterrupted power supply. Photo: M. Periasamy

ADDITIONAL BURDEN: Load shedding has led ot dependence on generators for power back-up. The cost of diesel to keep these functioning for close to 10 hours a day is pushing up charges for maintenance in apartments and for commercial sector services that require uninterrupted power supply. Photo: M. Periasamy  

Long hours of power cuts are eating into the pockets of common people

Eight hours of power cut a day in the city, which on many days extends to even 10 hours, is no more an issue limited to adjustments in daily routines at houses and industries.

The industries continue to protest and appeal to the Government for relief; households continue to grapple with unscheduled power cuts.

Worse now, the long hours of power cuts have started eating into the pockets of the common people.

Some of the services used by the public for their routine needs are becoming expensive

With eight to 10 hours of power cut a day, commercial establishments are forced to use generator sets or inverters to continue uninterrupted business. This adds to the cost in a big way.

Rates go up

Be it medical diagnosis, treatments, weddings, car washes, or photo copying, many of these service providers have increased the rates as they need to use the generator sets for longer hours because of the power cut.

Several residential apartments have increased the maintenance charges to meet the cost of operating the generator sets.

Serviced apartments that are not on annual contracts may also increase the rates in a month, says an industry source. In many wedding halls, the customer has to pay the generator usage charges, depending on the number of hours it is used.

Photocopying booths charge Rs. 1 extra a page if the work is done when there is no power.

Hotels, which mostly go in for an annual revision of rates, have not increased the room rates though they have to provide uninterrupted power supply to the guests.

This is certainly adding to the overhead costs. Activities such as laundry are affected severely. The sector expects some measures from the Government at the earliest to ease the situation, says the general manager at a leading hotel here.

Most of the apartment complexes have diesel generator sets for power back up for inside individual flats and also the common areas of the apartment complex. Some use the generators only for the common area, while the UPS is used inside the flats.

It did not matter much when the power cut was only for two hours. But, the nearly 10-hour cut a day has increased the dependence on the generators and with this the spending on diesel has gone up.

This, in turn, has led to an increase in the maintenance charges that occupants have to pay every month.

While those who use generators only for common area have to part with an additional amount somewhere between Rs. 200 and Rs. 300 a month, it is Rs.500 to Rs.700 more in apartments where the supply is for the flats and common areas.

Air Commodore (Retd.) R.I. Seshan, who is also the President of Orchid Residents' Welfare Society, has paid Rs. 2,400 as maintenance for March as against the Rs. 1,900 he usually pays.

The 35 residents of ‘Orchid', which consists of five blocks of apartments in Parsn Sesh Nestle, have done the same.

Diesel

“The 62.5 KVA generator that caters to 35 houses now consumes Rs. 18,000 worth of diesel. Earlier, it was Rs. 6,000 a month. It needs seven litres an hour at approximately Rs. 44 a litre. The difference of Rs.12,000 will be met with the additional money received from the residents, “ he says.

Though there is a belief that using an inverter for Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) will be comparatively cheaper, this does not solve the problem of those living in apartment complexes, because the inverters do not cater to the common areas and also these batteries required minimum of ten hours of power supply for charging the battery.

Residents believe that the little extra money they have to pay for the DG set ensures them hassle-free uninterrupted power supply not only inside the house, but also in the common area, including use of the lift.

While large, corporate hospitals are not complaining loudly yet, the groan is distinct from the medium-sized ones.

A typically medium-sized hospital has up to 50 beds and diagnostic or scanning equipment such as x-ray, ultrasound scanner, video endoscope, chemical analysers and those needed for blood and urine investigations.

Patients needing investigations cannot be turned away because there is no power supply. All these equipment will have to be run with diesel generator sets.

With summer having set it, fans will have to keep running 24-hours in the wards and air-conditioners in the special wards.

The owner of a hospital says one person is always posted at the generator room to ensure prompt and smooth switchover during the staggered power cuts.

Even if the surgery to be conducted is minor, power supply has to be continuous in the theatre.

Admitting that some hospitals may have increased the bill as they may have had no choice, a doctor points out that there is no guarantee that there will not be further rise in charges because there is always the threat of diesel price increase.

(With inputs from Amutha Kannan and K.V. Prasad)

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 11:16:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/diesel-generators-drive-up-costs-for-many-households-in-the-city-as-power-plays-truant/article2962598.ece

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