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Bangaloreans contribute to city's power crisis: survey

Reported in The Hindu

Bangalore (IANS): While residents of India's IT hub are crying foul about regular power outages, a survey has brought out Bangaloreans' some "bad habits" when it comes to using and conserving electricity.

The survey by Biodiversity Conservation (India) Ltd (BCIL) has found that a majority of Bangaloreans are blissfully ignorant about the enormity of the problem at hand and are making minimal efforts to keep a tab on their power consumption.

The response of over 400 people surveyed showed "fifty percent of the respondents considered the ever increasing electricity bills to be a good enough reason for trying to conserve electricity, and as high as ninety percent takes power usage for granted," the report titled BCIL Eco-Pulse said.

"A huge eighty percent (of those who feel that there is not enough power going around) would not pay a penny extra for power even if unlimited supply of electricity was guaranteed," the report added.

The BCIL, a 13-year-old organisation which advocates and builds eco-friendly houses, justified the small sample surveyed to gauge the opinion.

"We have adopted a method covering a cross section of the population from various zones of the city to give a fair idea about the general habit of car owners in Bangalore," BCIL CEO Chandrashekar Hariharan said, releasing the findings here Wednesday.

"The survey was aimed at understanding power consumption patterns and the attitude towards power conservation among Bangaloreans.

"Through the survey, we're not trying to find a solution," added Hariharan.

The survey was conducted over a period of six weeks and people between the ages of 21 and 50 from various zones in Bangalore, and whose monthly income was more than Rs.20,000 were covered in the survey, Hariharan said.

The city has a total population of 5,281,927 (according to 2001 census). Currently, Bangalore has been getting 27 million units of power everyday though the demand is for 32 million units.

Karnataka is facing a shortage of nine million units (mu) of power per day. While the present demand is 142 mu, the supply is only 133 mu. And the situation will likely worsen in the coming days, as the demand will go up in April and May.

While the Bangaloreans are experiencing two hours of unscheduled load-shedding in the morning and evening peak hours, rural Karnataka has no power for nearly 12 hours a day.

The survey brought out some alarming facts. Almost 45 percent of the households in Bangalore keep their television sets switched on for most of the day, even when no one is watching the programmes.

"Equally alarming is that more than fifty percent of respondents do not put off the main switch when the appliance is not in use," stated the survey.

According to the survey, around fifty percent of Bangaloreans do not fill the washing machine up to the capacity while washing, resulting in extra wastage of electricity.

Around seventy percent of the people surveyed admitted that they keep their geysers, one of the major power guzzlers switched on almost two hours a day.

"The results are surprising, not just for the usage patterns that have been found out but even more for the clear lack of commitment to power conservation and the limited awareness surrounding power-related issues," lamented Hariharan.

The study also brought to light some positive signs about Bangaloreans. Around 75 percent of the population in city uses CFL, the low energy consumption bulbs.

"Sixty percent of the respondents have said that they would inform Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM), if they find streetlights switched on during day time," stated the survey.

narayan82's picture

Enforce it no other way!

In the name of essential commodities we keep prices low for Water electricity...etc. I think we are misuing it. What we should have is a certain amount of "Reasonable" usage, and any usage above that shoud be charged a lot higher. Only when we pay a higer price do we be careful with it.

Like Petrol as an example!

But look it at sensibly  - we cant just keep increasing our consumption. We can't go on demolishing forests for nuclear reactors. We cant keep dumping radio active waste in some remote land. Its not going to work. We have to cut down our consumtion!

There are very few of us who will volunturaly do such a thing. It HAS to be enforced. I supported Green Peace's campaign - Ban the BULB. Switch to CFLs. Lets make it madatory. Which such a large market prices can be brought down - subsidies can be put in plc. But nobody wants to stick their neck out and impose a drastic measure in place! And its high time we had one.

Cant we make all the billboards solar? Can't we have smart streetlights that turn on when body heat/movement is detected. Can we really not leave our verandha light on the whole night? I dont.

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
manojh's picture

unecological load-shedding!

Firstly how is the electricity for the entire city generated? If it is all from water-falls, why the hue and cry? If it is from burning coal or diesel, then I am all for conserving it. Dont get me wrong, irrespective of where it is generated from, I am a very consious user of electricty. So much so, I even switch off my headlights when I am waiting for a traffic signal to turn green (of course, if I know how long it will be red, I even switch off the engine).

Recently I went shopping to Commercial street. It was during a "load-shedding" hour of the area. Now, I understand the generic need for load-shedding, but what I saw in Commercial street was ridiculous. Everyshop, even the smallest ones, has its own Generators! Those magical instruments that give you electricty when KEB doesnt! But does anyone know how it generates electricity. Of course by burning Diesel! So is it really okay to burn so much of unrenewable source of energy that also causes a great deal of harm to nature? Wouldnt it rather be safer when KEB does not cut power to such commercial areas!

Bringing Sense to Indian Traffic


murali772's picture

the epicentre

Hi Manoj

I have posted enough blogs on power on PRAJA, having once been a key player in the sector.

Very rightly as you have pointed out, burning up diesel/ kerosene in small capacity gensets is the most inefficient way of consuming these non-renewable resources. At the epicentre of the problem lies the monopoly of the government over distribution, and the answer lies in

Also, check:

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
narayan82's picture

Re: Manoj

The two main sources of power for the country I feel are coal and Nuclear. Neither of these and renewable. Hence, IMO we need to conserve at much as possible.

Unfortunately many dont look at it the way you and I do. In signales I see so many autos and private cars leaving thier engines on, using the A/C with windows open....and the same attitude applies to power saving. Here are some points

  1. If you have street lights do you need a 60/100 W bulb glowing 12 hours on your doorstep?
  2. How many of us use CFL bulbs?
  3. Do we really need to use non-renewable energy for junk like billboards and advertisements? Can this not be solar? Can we have a law that says BESCOM will NOT provide electricity for advertisements?
  4. Can we not have Solar geysers made mandatory for every high rise/apt?
  5. Now, coming to Malls - these guys are guzzlers. Can't they use some part of the consumption from Solar power?

I really feel we need stringent steps to tackle these issues.

The other worrying factor is the power cuts. I heard the just because of the elections the minister is using up more water from the dams to generate power - which will lead to even more drastic load shedding later on. Power - electrucity - must not be political controlled. I think we should have an independant/private body.

At a national level, we need to put in more efforts to see how we can create renewable electricty. we also need to research how we can create more efficient electronic gadgets such as geysers, washing machines....etc. Only a holisitc approach from all angles will help us tackle such a problem.

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
silkboard's picture

When something is cheap ...

... then it is hard to spread the perception about the commodity being scarce or important. As Narayan said above, the pricing, incentives for low usage etc need serious rethink. Usage above certain level should see steep rise in tariffs. Better still, charges could be uniformly high, low usage should earn you serious tax rebates (pay first, collect rewards later).

As Murali has already mentioned, the sector needs some reforms. Last round of reforms has turned the benefits (seperation of generation, transmission and distribution businesses). We are due for a round #2 (or round #3, depending on how you see the reforms over past 12 years).

While our country reels with big supply demand gaps in electricity, why is no innovation happening in the sector? Why is it that we have 1000s of startups in the space of arguably useless things like mobile ringtones, wallpapers, horoscopes etc, but hardly a dozen in the space of smart energy generation, storage and management?

Answer lies in the shackles placed upon the sector by the government. Granted, this being a sector with physical network like infrastructure (like the landline telephones), its not easy to get started with new ideas. but something has got to be seriously wrong if a sector with consumers waiting to pay for good services, and with such demand supply gap is not seeing serious entrepreneurship and innovation.

narayan82's picture

Scary Thought...

You know what could be worse? All our renewable sources of power shut down!

See this - from today's DH.

"The Sharavathi hydel power station, which meets 25 per cent of the power needs of the State, is heading towards a shutdown, perhaps for the first time."

Now what do we do! Soon we are going to run out of coal. And then we are going to be flooded with radio active waste - not knowing where to dispose it. Its a grave future ahead for power...

Maybe if people were a little more aware of such issues it could creep its way into the political agenda. But since nobody seems to be bothered it is neglected even further.

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
s_yajaman's picture

Aircons and streetlights

Given the amount of office cubic footage in Bangalore, I would think that there is plent of scope to reduce power consumption. 

The electricity consumption of an aircon is proportional to the temperature difference between the interior and the exterior.  So if the exterior temperature is say 34C, then we use 40% more electricity if we keep the inside at 20C vs 24C.  Keeping the AC in direct sunlight causes higher consumption. 

I have always wondered why we cannot wire our streetlights a bit better in Bangalore so that after peak hour only alterate light are kept on.  We have quite a few thousand sodium vapour lamps.   BBMP also tends to put on street lights too early and put them off too late.  See the article below.

The other thin BESCOM should do this summer is to increase the unit rates for more than 180-200 units significantly so that people conserve.  Then more people will move to solar heating, etc.


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