The energy conservation initiative, Labha Prabha, launched by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), does not seem to have made the desired impact in arresting the power consumption in the State.
Labha Prabha was launched as a comprehensive campaign for improving the demand side management through an incentive scheme to ensure public participation. The scheme with two components, one focussing on energy credits and another on cultivating a power saving habit among consumers and thus to say no to load-shedding, was launched on March 23 and will be in force till May 31. Prizes worth Rs.2 crore were announced as part of the scheme with a total outlay of Rs.8 crore. This was introduced as a short-term panacea to the power crisis gripping the State.
As per the figures furnished by the Southern Region Load Despatch Centre of the Power System Operating Corporation, the average power consumption level remained at 57 million units and not tripped as targeted by the board since the launch of the campaign. The corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) operates five regional load despatch centres in the country.
The consumption on March 20 and also on March 23 was 62.3 million units. Though it came down to 58.8 MU on March 28 and 57.6 MU on April 1, it again shot up to 59.5 MU on April 2 and 62 MU on April 3. The power consumption levels usually come down on Sundays as offices, shops and other establishments remain closed. The power usage level on two Sundays, March 24 and April 7, remained at 56 MU. Even on May 1, when the entire State went on a day's holiday, the consumption level was 56.7 MU. The usage levels have not tripped below the 57 MU level on most of these days which have been monitored at random to find out the impact of the drive.
Official sources told The Hindu here on Saturday that there were about 85 lakh domestic consumers in the State. Had the campaign been successful in making each consumer save at least one unit, it would have eased the strain on the waning power pool of the State. The critique on the drive is that had it been able to influence the consumers to bring down the usage to at least 52 MU, it could have been deemed a success.
At the same time the board's official estimates say that there are 12,21,370 defective energy meters in the State. This was a major source of revenue loss. Had the board spent an amount equivalent to what it spent on the campaign, it could have replaced 1.5 lakh meters and mopped up the power charge due from consumers who still had defective meters, the sources said.