Electricity Minister A. K. BalanKerala’s Power Minister A. K Balan flagged off a blindfolded motor ride by magicians by staging his own magic in Trivandrum early this week. The message was “Save Power, Save Kerala.” He pulled out theme banners and did a few other tricks.

But, the real magic by Mr. Balan was in reducing consumption during peak hours this summer. The Kerala State Electricity Board had been running campaigns calling upon people to switch of bulbs during peak hours. The Minister claimed the campaign, which used celebrities, was a big success. The peak hour consumption in summer did not rise, but dropped compared to the previous year. The saving was of the order of 200 MW.

What was the trick behind this magic? Well, repairs were delayed. Some interior areas did not get power for more than 48 hours at a stretch. Even in Trivandrum city, power went off regularly in some areas. The Board compelled some major consumers to shed load during peak hours. Then, the summer rains helped— fewer fans were on. May be a few switched off lights heeding the calls of super stars.

However, Mr. Balan and his predecessors have done magic if they had intensely promoted energy efficiency including use of CFL lamps. The power savings would have been tremendous. The Board would have gained even if it subsidized CFL lamps. It could also have set up non-conventional energy generating stations when Centre was offering 100 per cent subsidy.

What the Board could not do in 16 years, a private company did in 100 days at Ramackalmedu by erecting wind turbines. Now, should be oppose corporatisation or even privatization of KSEB? In the telecommunication sector, the private companies have done wonders. They will do the same in the power sector also. However, it is imperative to keep them under tight regulations to prevent exploitation.

For further reading:
Electricity Boards can save millions by subsidising energy efficiency