For Bengaluru, summer is usually synonymous with rising temperatures, examinations, vacations, and power cuts. It’s the time when Bescom sees peak demand, thanks to the need for air-conditioning and IP (irrigation pump) sets. This summer though, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, it is seeing underutilisation of power.
The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), that accounts for nearly half of the State’s total power needs, is seeing 25% lesser power consumption than normal. The main reason is the lockdown of commercial establishments and industries, that account for roughly 30% of the load. This has left Bescom only with load from domestic connections and IP sets.
What the power utility now has is a problem of plenty. According to Bescom officials, the availability of power itself was not a problem since it started tapping into solar energy. Ever since the State supplemented its dependence on thermal and hydel power with solar energy, the government reported surplus power. “Power availability has not been a problem since last year, especially due to the huge solar capacity. This year, there is a surplus power,” said a senior Bescom official.
According to figures available for April 1 (4 p.m. data), for example, the State’s total generation was 10,084 MW. But the State load was 9,774 MW only. What is troubling utilities is firstly the wastage of solar power and secondly, the beating revenues will take this year. “We could have generated higher revenue had everything been working. Now, it is literally free power (solar) going waste. We have no storage capacity for it and the sun’’s bounty is not being used,” said the official.
Commercial and industrial tariffs are higher than domestic tariffs, while IP set tariffs are subsidised by the government. This means that Bescom, which has been citing revenue gaps in its tariff petitions, is staring at another one.