Monday, May 07, 2007

Power cuts galore in Navi-Mumbai, Thane

As Mumbai is spared load-shedding again this month, it is residents of Navi Mumbai and Thane who are feeling the heat. IT parks are exempted altogether and Industrial areas like TBI (Thane Belapur Industries) face power cuts on a weekly basis i.e. every Friday. Meanwhile, Navi Mumbai and certain areas in Thane are facing four and a half to five hours of power cuts daily, areas like Dombivali, Kalyan, Vasai, and Nalasopara are trying hard to put up with eight hours of power cut every day, in two schedules of four hours each.
Bhushan Kadam, Proprietor, Beenstalk Cyber Café located in sector 17, Vashi, says: "My business is completely reliant on electricity. Four hours of load-shedding has meant my revenue receipts have halved. We are all seriously affected by this and are planning to put in inverters and generators which would mean an additional expenditure of 50,000 to 60,000."
Many local residents have already done so. They have installed inverters of 800 watts, keeping in mind a three to three and a half hour power cut. An average 800-watt inverter costs Rs. 13,000 - Rs. 15,000, and since the. demand has suddenly risen, many dealers have increased the cost of these inverters. Consumers of electricity today are resigned to facing power cuts, paying almost double for the power, and then suffering business losses as a result of power shortages.
Sudhir Abbott, Director, Abbott Hotels, Sector 2, Vashi says the 56-room hotel with three banquet halls and restaurant has full power back up. "We have a solar power heater which supplies hot water 310 days of the year," explains Sudhir. He adds: "It is however definitely a serious issue, and has meant hardships for many people. As far as Mumbai is concerned I think they should avoid load-shedding, Mumbai is too huge a metropolis. The power cuts would mean huge amount of investments in
backups, especially in high-rises. It will lead to a lot of confusion given the amount of backups needed, which would have to be recharged."
Are inverters really the solution? Prakash Singh, an inverter dealer explains, "Inverters were made for unexpected short power cuts and not for regular long hours of load-shedding. This will not only reduce the life of inverters but also lead to problems in their working if they are not maintained well i.e. at least every alternate month the batteries should be checked." He also advises that while purchasing an inverter, one should be careful to choose a company which provides good after-sales service, and not be blinded by a brand name.
There are other alternative sources of energy that must be put to use, such as solar power and windmills. Parth Builders have set an example here - they have installed three windmills for the common lighting area in their building Lords at CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai. They have also installed CNG tanks below the parking to run the elevators and cooking, as back ups during the power cut hours.
"Wind and solar energy resources are complementary in nature. They are useful to create a point of use electrical energy system. Cost saving is achieved by displacing diesel generators, rising costs of conventional utility power and achieving a higher reliability and electric energy availability. Both solar and wind resources are reliable, especially in the days of global warming," says H. C. Joshi from Vistar Electronics, Pune. But the per unit cost of these non-traditional energy resources ranges from Rs. 18-20, whereas our average power consumption costs Rs. 3 and commercially, Rs. 5.
Many households have installed solar water heaters as it saves both energy and money and is one-time investment. Today these water heaters range from Rs. 20,000 for 125 litres/ day to Rs. 1,00,000 for 500 litres/ day. This includes the cost of collectors, storage tank, piping system, instrumentation and other installations. The smaller solar water heater takes up three and a half sq metres of space on a terrace. The maintenance cost is zero, the only thing one has to be careful about is cleaning the surface of the heater. The life of such a heater varies from 20-25 years. Rashmi Collectors and Tata BP Solar are leading brands in solar water heaters.
The good news is that banks like Vijaya Bank, Andhra Bank, Dena Bank, etc. also provide loans on these water heaters, so dealers are expecting a boom in sales on these heaters.
Thane Municipal Coporation (TMC) are using solar power energy for lighting street poles. If these renewable energy sources are put to more such innovative uses then maybe residents will suffer less load-shedding.

No comments: