Bangalore hasn’t been the best of cities to stay in these past few days. Reeling under the burden of a severe power crisis, multiple endless unscheduled power cuts crippled the IT city and the southern state of Karnataka. Falling right in the middle of unseasonably hot weather, end of year exams and pre-election momentum, these daylong power cuts has hampered day to day living, so much that people – including young students – have taken to the streets protesting the lack of electricity.
So what’s the short term answer to the problem?
In order to beat the power crisis and perhaps the polls too, the state asked Karnataka’s power corporation (Karnataka Power Corporation Limited – KPCL) to step up power generation from its hydel reserves. But, as the corporation’s Managing Director pointed out, while this might solve the problem in the short run, it could trigger a much larger problem later on. For, if the KPCL falls back on its water reserves generate greater power output and if the monsoon fails or is late, these reserves might not replenish in time, affecting production for the whole year. The Economic Times also notes that the Chief Minister has asked his Gujarati counterpart to spare some power for the state.
So what’s the sustainable answer to the problem?
One avenue the government is looking at is alternate energy sources. Karnataka’s hydel sources are already stretched to the limit and according to this report, Karnataka has set itself a target of 5450 MW from renewable sources by 2012 and 11700 MW by 2018. Bringing down the cost of renewable energy will be the real challenge, if the demand for power tariff revision by (mostly private) renewable energy generators is taken into consideration.
Coupled with new energy sources, the KPCL is also looking to create more awareness on energy management and renewable energy. This too will be an uphill task as a recent survey of urban Bangaloreans showed that the large majority of the citizens are not environmentally conscious and while they demand better services, they aren’t willing to pay more for it or do their bit in conserving what little there is.
Karnataka aims to be energy secure by 2013. In order for this to happen all the stakeholders – public, private, consumers and suppliers need to find a middle ground. A long term vision of conservation, awareness and energy management along with sustainable long term policies and the promotion of different renewable energy sources is required in order to overcome this power crisis. And in the meantime, the vicious cycle of unscheduled loadshedding, citizen apathy and government shortsightedness will continue.