Per-day consumption reached a record high earlier this week with the State using over 60 million units of power compared to the average of 49-50 million units during last summer. The stagnant generation at just over 25 million units a day in the State is worrying the Electricity Board.
KSEB officials attribute the sudden leap in consumption to the early peaking of summer temperatures (in places like Palakkad, temperatures have already touched the 40-degree Celsius mark) and a coinciding of festivals in hundreds of temples and the examination season for students.
"There could be a dip in consumption in the coming days as the festival season would be over, but that does not give us any relief because summer is yet to turn real hot," said a senior official with the KSEB. "The only way to bridge the demand-supply gap is to buy power from outside at exorbitant rates but that is a policy matter," he said.
According to studies and KSEB sources, modern lifestyles are to blame for the enhanced consumption - in kitchens and bedrooms and receptions - by more and more Keralites. For example, at least 100,000 induction cookers and 20,000 air-conditioners, both known as power-guzzlers, had been sold in Kerala between April last year and this February.
"The new in-thing is induction cooker. It is fast, stylish and hassle-free but it is very dangerous as far as power consumption in a State like Kerala is concerned," said the EB official. He said a minimum of 100 mw of power is being guzzled by these cookers in Kerala where not even 150 mw of power had been added to the installed capacity in the past half-decade.
Kerala Power Minister Aryadan Muhammad told the State Assembly that periodic load-shedding would have to be imposed in the months ahead if power was not steadily available from outside sources. "Even buying additional power from outside is a hard choice for Government because consumers are unlikely to welcome a tariff hike," said an EB official.
The power demand is between 3,000 mw and 3,300 mw in Kerala where the total domestic generation is just 1,500 mw. The gap is now being met with power drawn from the Central grid and bought from outside. A fall in either of these - or both as it sometimes happens - would lead to a severe power crisis.
As 66 percent of the power demand in the State is met with hydro-electricity, the heat being experienced at the very start of the summer is giving jitters to the KSEB. The giant Idukki hydro-electric project, which meets 50 per cent of entire Kerala's power needs, would not be able to run to full capacity through the summer as the giant reservoir does not have sufficient water due to improper planning.
At the same time, indications are already there that the summer this year could be as intense as that of 2010. The Health Department has issued warnings to the district administration in Palakkad about possibilities of people getting sun-strokes as day temperature has already touched the 40-degree Celsius mark.