Covid-19 crisis: Lockdown knocks power use down 20-40% in some cities

“The overall demand is expected to be muted compared to earlier pre-Covid projections,” said the BSES spokesperson
The government had imposed lockdown from March 25 to fight the deadly coronavirus in the country. This also resulted in a decline in power consumption of 20-40 per cent in April and May. With some cities in unlock mode, the trend maybe reversing, albeit slowly.

According to the data sourced from three private distribution companies (discoms) for Mumbai, Delhi, and Ahmedabad, power consumption showed significant dip, compared to last year. But new trends like higher digital payments and residential demand have emerged.

Mumbai, Delhi, and Ahmedabad are cities where private power distributors operate. Data sources from these distributors show dip in consumption for Mumbai, compared to last year, was 22 per cent in April, while the decline for May this year was 17 per cent.
“The electricity consumed in licence areas of Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, and Dahej special economic zones reduced 35 per cent in May, compared to May 2019,” said a spokesperson for Torrent, which is a power distributor in these circles.


In the national Capital, peak power demand fell 44 per cent in April and 15 per cent in May. With Delhi being one of the cities witnessing early reversal of lockdown, executives report a change in demand trend. 

“After the end of Lockdown 3.0 on May 17 and the easing of restrictions, Delhi’s peak power had started increasing and the gap had narrowed. Since easing of restrictions on May 18, Delhi’s peak power demand had increased over 40 per cent,” said a BSES Delhi spokesperson. This in part due to heatwave conditions intensifying. 

Tata Power-Delhi Distribution on Thursday said it met peak power demand of 1,713 megawatt (Mw) on Thursday. “Delhi as a whole also touched the season’s high of 5,925 Mw amid the ongoing heatwave,” the company said in its statement. 
While demand returns in some cities, there is a word of caution. “The overall demand is expected to be muted, compared to pre-Covid projections,” said a BSES spokesperson.

Reliance Infrastructure-owned BSES has two distribution licences in Delhi for east and southern parts of the city. Eighty five per cent of its connections are domestic, 13 per cent commercial. Only 1 per cent is industrial, 1 per cent in ‘others’ category. 

A similar pattern is seen for Adani Electricity Mumbai (AEML) that has 82 per cent residential connections, 17 per cent commercial, and 1 per cent in ‘others’ category. Adani Group had bought this business from BSES in 2018. A break-up for Torrent Power, however, was not readily available. As discoms deal with change in demand, they also face challenges over physical meter readings. “Estimated e-bills are being sent to customers based on average consumption over the past three months. Once the actual meter reading is available, the figure will be adjusted basis actual utilisation,” said an AEML spokesperson.

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