Apart from the ongoing load shedding in the domestic sector, more restrictions on power consumption by high-tension and extra high-tension power consumers are being mooted by Kerala State Electricity Board because of inadequate monsoon and low water levels in reservoirs. The proposed curbs will have to be cleared by the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC) after a public hearing from stakeholders, which is slated for December 10.
The power guzzlers in Kochi include industrial units such as FACT, Shipyard, BPCL Kochi Refinery, Binani Zinc and HOCL.
Captive power systems could have lessened the impact of the power curbs. But the majority of big industrial units have no captive power system. Captive plants are power generation units normally established by an industry to meet its own requirements by not depending on the grid. Kochi Refinery has a captive power generation system, which has effectively reduced their dependence on KSEB. Binani Zinc is understood to be operating a captive power unit that uses furnace oil. But the costly power has reportedly compelled the industrial unit to limit the generation from it.
The government can encourage public and private sector units to set up captive power units by providing incentives, according to experts in energy management. Tamil Nadu is known to have followed such a policy which has benefited the industry as well as the State, says K. K.George, secretary of Kerala High tension and Extra High Tension Consumers' Association. The association will urge the authorities to allocate more power to Kerala from the central pool as the State is heavily dependent on hydel power and the erratic monsoon had affected power generation within the State, he told The Hindu.
Kerala's potential in harnessing wind power is grossly underutilised. The State can encourage industrial units to set up wind mills in the State. Such a policy had been adopted by Tamil Nadu, he said, citing the example of GTN Textiles that set up a unit. Wind mills were set up on behalf of the industrial unit, under the instructions of the government of Tamil Nadu.
Kerala had introduced a scheme to set up mini hydel projects in the private sector, but there were only a few takers. It was mainly because of the stipulation that the project should be handed over to KSEB after 12 years.
The power shortage has become more acute in certain areas as several high power-consuming industries such as steel rolling mills had shifted from Tamil Nadu to Kerala when power crisis created trouble in the neighbouring State, says T.S. Chandran, former president of Kerala Industrial Extension Officers' Association.