Power demand crashes in State
Daily consumption has fallen by 20% since last month
The economic impact of the novel coronavirus is starting to be felt in the State, which is witnessing a sharp drop in energy demand as a result of the continuing industrial and commercial shutdown.
The total daily demand has fallen by 20% to 17,850 megawatts (MW) from the record high of 21,000 MW, more than a month ago on February 21. Not only is the revenue of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) likely to dip but also the financial situation will worsen since most of the shut industries are cross-subsidising individual and households.
Supply likely to dip
The supply is also likely to dip since the transportation of coal is getting affected due to the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the virus, senior officials said.
In a meeting on Wednesday, the State government issued directives to impose a moratorium on penalties and interests on bills pending this month. The 31-day lockdown period — seven declared by the State and 21 by the Centre — will not be taken into account while calculating penalties. The payment for consumption in the period can also be submitted on a later date. An official said, “The Chief Minister has clarified, we [consumers and the government] are in this together. Until the crisis is over, we will not even take meter readings for individuals and households, instead they would be allowed to take a reading and submit it to us. We are sure there will not be a fraud in this. We trust our consumers during this period. No power connections will be cut on account of rule violations and non-payment of bills.”
The government said since the supply could also be impacted, as has happened on the national level with India’s power supply crashing to 29,750 lakh units (LU) from 35,650 LU, a proposal would be sent to procure power from private players. The government is looking at buying 250 MW of other forms of electricity, like solar, from private companies willing to sell.
“This is a serious economic threat to MSEDCL which is already under lot of financial stress. Next three months are crucial from the economic point of view,” an official said.