Coronavirus pandemic: March electricity usage falls 9.2% as lockdown bites

Reuters
New Delhi, India Published: Apr 01, 2020, 06.43 PM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

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This is the country's fastest pace of decline in consumption since October, when power use fell at its steepest in over 12 years due to a broad economic slowdown.

Electricity use fell 9.2 per cent in March, provisional government data showed on Wednesday, as consumption dropped for the first time in three months due to a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Consumers used 100.2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in March, compared with 110.33 billion units a year earlier, an analysis of load despatch data by state-run Power System Operation Corp Ltd (POSOCO) showed.

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That was the country's fastest pace of decline in consumption since October, when power use fell at its steepest in over 12 years due to a broad economic slowdown.

As the scare of the spread of the coronavirus mounted, Prime Minister Narendra Modi first imposed a partial lockdown on March 22, following which states progressively increased restrictions culminating in a national three week shutdown starting March 25.

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Power supplied was over 2 per cent lower in the first three weeks of the month ending March 21. In the ten days that followed, electricity use fell by about a fifth, an analysis of POSOCO data showed.

Consumption of electricity in the last ten days of March in major industrial states such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu fell over a fifth, while power use in the western state of Gujarat fell over 30% compared with the average use in the first three weeks, the data showed.

Electricity demand from industries account for over two-fifths of India's annual electricity consumption, according to government data, with residences accounting for nearly a quarter and commercial establishments for less than a tenth.

The northern states of Punjab and Haryana, both of which are major agricultural states, saw the highest rates of declines during March, falling over 20% each.

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