PM’s 9-minute lights-out call goes well without disrupting electricity grid


NEW DELHI: A nine-minute lights-out event on Sunday evening went off well without any disruption in the electricity grid after the government and utilities put in place elaborate plans to deal with the sudden drop and then a quick spurt in demand.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged people to switch off the lights at their homes and light up lamps, candles or mobile phone torches for nine minutes at 9 pm on Sunday to display the country’s “collective resolve” to defeat coronavirus.

Power Minster R K Singh told , “The power supply ramp down and ramp up – they (officials) handled very smoothly, and I along with my senior officials — power secretary, POSCO CMD — were personally monitoring the situation from National Monitoring Centre in the ministry. I congratulate all the engineers of NLDC, RLDC and SLDCs for handling the situation very efficiently especially in huge response to the Prime Minister’s call”.

The power consumption went down from 117GW to 85.30GW within the spin of around four minutes leading up to 9PM. That means this was much more than anticipated fall of 12GW, the minister said.

The ramp up was very smooth at around 110 GW after the dip in demand during light-out, he said, adding that no incident of any power failure reported.

He also lauded power gencos NTPC and NHPC for rising up to the occasion.

Also, there was good contribution from Hydro power sector, Singh added.

There were apprehensions about adverse affect on the electricity grid due to the blackout among the people which were dispelled by the Ministry of Power on Saturday saying these are misplaced.

The government on Saturday sought to assuage fears of electricity grid instability due to simultaneous switching on and off of most lights in the country, saying adequate protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand without causing any damage to appliances.

Several states shot off letters to power utilities to take steps to deal with the possibility of a sudden drop in electricity demand, which has already dipped 25.82 per cent to 125.11 GW on April 4 from 168.66 GW on the same day last year, mainly due to the lockdown, which shut down most businesses.

Power System Operation Corp Ltd, the agency responsible for managing electricity grid, had said the lighting load of household consumes may be no more than 12-13 GW.

“Unlike normal operation, this reduction in load of the order of 12-13 GW would happen in 2-4 minutes and recover nine minutes later.

“This sharp reduction in load and recovery, which is unprecedented, will need to be handled through hydro and gas resources,” it had said.

Its game plan of managing the sudden change in demand was to reduce hydro power generation during 6:10 pm to 8:00 pm on Sunday and conserve it for providing flexibility during the 9:00 pm event.

Also, coal-based generators as well as gas fired power stations were to be scheduled in a manner so as to manage the peak demand.

The government on its part moved to assuage any concerns on this front, saying the call was only for voluntary switching off the lights, and appliances such as computers, TV, refrigerators and ACs are to function normally.

Also, lights in all essential services including hospitals, police stations and manufacturing facilities as well as street lights are not to be switched off.

“Some apprehensions have been expressed that this may cause instability in the grid and fluctuation in voltage which may harm the electrical appliances. These apprehensions are misplaced,” power ministry had said on Saturday.

“There is no call to switch off either street lights or appliances like computers, TVs, fans, refrigerators and ACs in the homes. Only lights should be switched off. The lights in hospitals and all other essential services like public utilities, municipal services, offices, police stations, manufacturing facilities, etc will remain on,” the ministry further said.

Stating that the Prime Minister has appealed to the people to voluntarily switch off their lights between 9:00 p.m to 9:09 pm, the ministry had said that all local bodies were advised to keep the street lights on for public safety.

State load dispatch centres and other state utilities had also shot off advisories for the purpose.

This was not the first time the country went for a blackout, as earlier too such exercises have been conducted for initiatives like ‘Earth Hour’.

The country had gone through a grid failure in 2012 due to technical reasons.


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