9-minute lights off for solidarity: Government assures stability of grid during blackout

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made this call to as a symbolic stance to fight the coronavirus.

Allaying fears about apprehensions of grid instability and voltage fluctuations due to people turning off lights in their homes for nine minutes at 9 pm Sunday, the Union power ministry said in a statement that the Indian electricity grid is robust and stable and adequate arrangements and protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made this call to as a symbolic stance to fight the coronavirus.

Considering the power requirements of 21.4 crore connected households (17.1 crore rural and 4.3 crore urban), power demand is estimated to fall by 12,879 mega-watt (MW) during blackout event, according to national electricity grid manager Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (Posoco). This sharp reduction and recovery in load within such a short span of time “is unprecedented” and is needed to be managed through hydro and gas based power plants, which are more flexible in ramping their generation capacities. Such plants across the country have flexibility of 18,713 MW.

The government assured that “only lights should be switched off” and “there is no call to switch off either street lights or appliances like computers, TVs, fans, refrigerators and ACs in the homes”. To avoid sharp crashing of load due to everyone switching off lights, Uttar Pradesh’s grid operator had proposed “load shedding in a staggered manner may be done staring from approximately 8 pm to 9 pm in Uttar Pradesh Power control area”. The Union government has advised all local bodies to keep the street lights on for public safety, and clarified that lights in hospitals, public utilities, municipal services, offices, police stations and other essential premises would stay on.

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