Hours ahead of the nine minutes lights out event called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, power utilities in Gujarat have been sending out text messages to consumers to keep their appliances turned on during the nine minutes. However, while the private power companies have cited the grid turning unstable as a concern, government-run Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) has sent out messages dispelling fears that consumer appliances would be affected due to a sudden surge in the voltage.
Private power utilities like Torrent Power Limited have issued an advisory to their consumers, requesting them to not turn off all electrical appliances as it could have a cascading effect on the grid stability. The message from Torrent Power, which is in Gujarati, read, “We request you to completely darken the corner where you wish to light the lamps, however, please do keep all other electrical appliance like refrigerator, fans, air conditioners turned on. We request you that all appliances that are working until 8:55 pm should be allowed to remain turned on until 9:30 pm. Further, we also request you to turn on your lights one after the other after 9:09 pm as it is extremely important to maintain the stability of the grid. We trust your cooperation.”
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On the other hand, the four zones of the GUVNL have sent out text messages to their consumers, assuring them that there wouldn’t be any voltage surge after 9.09 pm which might damage their appliances.
The GUVNL message reads, “The (Prime Minister’s) appeal does not ask for street lights, as well as home appliances like computers, TV, Refrigerators, fans and air conditioners to be switched off as part of the event. It only asks residents to turn off their lights for nine minutes. There has been a fear created about the instability of the grid and the voltage surge resulting in damage to the electrical appliances, which is not true. This notion is false.”
With several social media messages urging people to turn off the entire power supply for nine minutes, either as part of the event or as a precaution against a possible voltage surge when power is turned on, the State Load Despatch Center (SLDC) of Gujarat has decided to downscale all the hydro and gas power plants in the state on April 5 to balance the load when lights go out at 9pm.
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The Sunday Express has earlier reported power department offcials have been huddled in several meetings and video conferencing since the announcement by PM Modi to chalk out a plan to avoid any mishaps with the grid. The state’s power consumption per day is about 16000MW. But since the lockdown, with industries closed down, it has come down to 9000MW per day. Of this, about 1000MW is peak hour load — that is the time when maximum household electrical appliances are turned on including the lights.
Gujarat has five gas plants in Utran and Hazira in Surat, Dhruvaran in Bharuch, Vadodara and Pipavav, while three hydro power plants are located in Kadana, Ukai and Kevadia. On Saturday, in a letter to all administrative departments of the state, Additional Chief Secretary Sunaina Tomar of the Gujarat Energy and Petroleum Department, has stated, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked residents to voluntarily switch off lights and light candles and lamps on April 5 at 9pm. However, there is no appeal to switch off lights in places of essential services, streetlights as well as appliances like TV, refrigerators and air conditioners. Preparations are in place to handle the frequency variations and load. Therefore, people need not worry about keeping their appliances switched on. All civic and local bodies –gram Panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations must keep their streetlights switched on during the time. Hospitals should also keep their lights turned on.”
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