Demand Side Management!

Can it work for JKPDD?

Winter or summer, the power woes for the state don’t show any substantial improvements. Numerous schemes proposed by either central or state governments fail to deliver the end point results for which they were envisaged, due to wavering reasons. The net alteration that the public perceives is a new energy meter, more poles & tower structures or more chunks of agricultural land acquired by the department for the ultimate goal of providing 24X7 electricity. Inspite of all these purported solutions the problem remains unsolved and the dream still distant from realization. One wonders as to whether providing uninterrupted electricity to the state, a state that allegedly has a vast hydro power potential, is infact such a big challenge and a complex jinx of intricacies or is it that the department is unable to identify the root cause and then trying to bell the wrong cat. Agreed that the power system of the state is in disasters and as such needs improvements in all dimensions but at the same time the measures taken by the department are unsynchronized thereby the end-results being not really reassuring. Not underestimating the proficiencies and the caliber of either the department or the staff therein, all I am trying to figure out is as to what sort of efforts and expertise is needed to bring an end to our power woes.

While undeniably the network expansion and strengthening projects together with schemes of harnessing additional resources to generate more electricity in order to counter the load growth and the demand increase dominate, yet there is definitely a lacuna which needs to be plugged. With these efforts on the supply side management, in terms of the generation and transmission expansion co-planning, I think it would be a worthwhile step to investigate the possibilities of the Demand Side Management (DSM), Smart Grid (SG) and Distributed Generation (DG) in the state of J&K. Demand side managements programs if implemented in the state can prove to be very opportunistic and the general public should be supportive of the same, provided prior awareness of the said scheme is  imparted. Conventional schemes implemented by the departments e.g. the HVDS and the R-APDRP etc were faced with a lot of criticisms and resistance by the stakeholders including the public and that’s the reason why in-spite of the funds readily available, the department has gone as far as the procurement of the material and then their dumping at the stores etc. with little implementation. If implemented in letter and spirit, the schemes would certainly aid but due to the lack of awareness the implementation faces such hue and cry. Unquestionably the black sheep’s among us will fight tooth and nail to not let such schemes be implemented as the same would close the window of opportunity of power pilferage. While the department is continually working on the supply side of the energy management, I think it’s the right time for the department to focus on the demand side of the energy management system in order to meet the annual energy targets. Demand side management is quite very common and successfully supplements in maintaining the power system security and reliability in many developed countries of the world. 

So how can DSM help in mitigating the suffering faced by the people of this region? The answer lies in the fact that the DSM compensates the general public and the stakeholders for any curtailment that the power companies initiates to maintain the power system security and reliability. The DSM program does not guarantee a curtailment free power to the consumers but rather the process involved in the DSM tries to focus on encouraging the general public to opt for power curtailment in-lieu for reimbursement for those hours that the consumer was subject to the curtailment, with his prior consent for such program.  The logic for such a program is very simple. As an example, in Australia, the power companies initiate load shedding schemes for suburbs who have agreed to the DSM participation during the times of system distress conditions and the consumer is compensated for the duration he was subjected to the forced curtailment while considering his historical demand and usage data. The Demand Reduction Program envisages that the Customer has agreed, in the time periods already specified and agreed upon by the consumer, to reduce demand to no more than e.g., XX MWs (‘DSM Maximum Capacity’) or alternately to 0 MWs. The timings of this DSM can be varied and modified with prior consent and information from the consumer. During the DSM participation period the Customer has to ensure that his maximum demand (the ‘DSM Maximum Demand’) will not exceed the DSM Maximum Capacity. Finally the successful delivery of the services is established by ex-post examination of tariff metering data or by real time monitoring of the DSM Maximum Demand via various technological methods including current or power measurement transducers that are usually installed at the electricity aperture at the consumer’s premises. The consumer is back paid and the consumer’s bills indicate the repayments for the DSM programs he had participated in.

Demand side participation provides a tool for customers to manage their electricity consumption and, in turn, their electricity bills. Same can be potentially expanded to customers of all sizes including commercial and industrial customers who may utilize Distributed Generation e.g., Solar roof top panels etc, undertake energy efficiency activities or negotiate their arrangements to curtail their demand at peak usage times or during night for incentive or energy cost benefits. On the same lines, residential and small business customers may undertake activities such as energy efficiency (e.g., using LED/CFL, reducing standby power), peak demand shifting (e.g., shifting energy usage use to off-peak, cheaper time periods), reducing consumption, and generating their own electricity (e.g., installing solar PVs). 

JKPDD spends a lot of money for procurement of power during winter periods when the hydel generators run low on generation due to low river discharges etc. and as such procurement of power from neighboring states is the only option for the department. Due to high demand for the power from all northern constituents in North India during the winter periods, the per unit cost of the electricity is usually very high. In addition to these compulsions, the department has been all along these decades focusing on network expansion to get rid of the power woes. However one can think of considering demand side participation options to be an alternative to network expansion and power procurement. While networks needs to build to meet the maximum demand on the network, but certainly adopting new technologies like DSM can also help in mitigating the problems and can also prove to be more economical. Demand side participation options such as distributed generation, agreements with energy users to curtail energy use at peak demand time (in return for an incentive payment or discount) can possibly delay or cancel the need for a network investment. It’s the right time for JKPDD to investigate if such options can be used for providing a commercially sound and sustainable option as part of the network planning and investment process. Such schemes certainly need technological modifications and ramifications in the existing system e.g., by switching to Smart Meters and other shrewd know-hows.

Shoaib Shah studies at the University of Sydney, Australia