Countrywide 9-minute lights switch off manageable: Grid authorities

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call asking nation to switch off lights for nine minutes on Sunday will not impact electricity grid operations, power ministry official said.

The power ministry officials and grid management authorities swung into action immediately after Modi addressed the nation on Friday morning. The prime minister has asked people to switch of lights at 9 PM on Sunday night and express solidarity in times of lockdown by lighting earthen lamps or torch lights.

“Power Minister R K Singh has discussed the issue with Power Grid Corp of India Ltd and load dispatcher (POSOCO) in today’s meeting. They are up to the task and are confident of managing the grid stability for the event,” the spokesperson said in response to media query.

A top official in the electricity grid management authority said since the event is known in advance, measures can be taken to ensure grid is not affected. He said the demand is expected to reduce by about 15 GW during the nine minutes. Accordingly measures to plan reducing the electricity generation about an hour before the event and increase it slowly later will be taken by POSOCO, he said adding the exercise will be similar to one hour pan-India ‘Earth Hours’ conducted periodically.

After Modi’s address on Friday morning, experts in the power industry expressed concerns on grid stability. Experts said decreasing power generation to cope with the nationwide nine-minute shutdown and raising it within such short period of time will be a challenging task for grid operator and threatens its stability.

“As it is the electricity demand in the country has crashed due lockdown and the grid is balancing excess generation with low demand. If not blackouts, the announcement can lead to anxiety among grid authorities in these challenging times,” a former bureaucrat said.

Credit rating agency ICRA Ratings has anticipated the lockdown to control the Covid-19 pandemic to adversely impact electricity demand and cash flows for discoms and, lead to payment delays for power generation and transmission companies. ICRA Ratings Group Head and Senior Vice President – Corporate ratings Sabyasachi Majumdar has said power demand is expected to decline by about 20-25% on a year-on-year basis during the period of lockdown.

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