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DELINQUENT ELECTRICITY BILLS INCURRED DURING PANDEMIC

Author: Sushmita Bharti, B.A.,LL.B from Sai Nath University.

In the light of extraordinary impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown measures on the energy system, the shutdowns and restrictions that government have imposed to limit the spread of Covid-19 have made it hard for many households to afford basic needs.


Utilities and policymakers recognized that services like water and electricity are essential to people’s health, safety and comfort.


The most popular approach has been for them too impose moratoria on late fees and disconnections for non payment of bills.


Electricity demand dropped to Sunday levels under lockdown, with dramatic reductions in services and industry only partially offset by higher residential use.


When confinement was eased in Italy and Germany in April, electricity demand showed the first signs of recovering. In June and July, the electricity demands, weather corrected, stayed 10% and 5% respectively below the 2019 level of the same month, in some countries except India, where the recovery was more pronounced. In August, the sustained recovery in electricity demand growth of EU countries brought them close to their 2019 level, through some restrictions measures continue to curd electricity demand in September. In October demand of electricity growth steadily recovered in European countries up to 2019 levels, before increasing restrictions were announced.


Strengthening measures negatively impacted electricity demand for European countries in November, where decreases similar to that of June were observed. The end of the year, however, was marked by a recovery of electricity demand, now above 2019 levels after weather adjustment.


In India the recovery of electricity demand was confirmed with higher levels than in 2019 starting in early august. In September 2020, electricity demand, weather corrected, was 3.4% above September 2019 in average, driven by higher demand in industrial and commercial sectors, as well as higher demand for irrigation compared to 2019. In October 2020, the relaxing of restrictions and a stronger economic environment led to electricity demand more then 10% above October 2019 levels, in line with pre Covid-19 trends.

By mid-to end November, the upward trend inverted again and returned to last year levels due to the Diwali festival and strikes in the agricultural sector. The upward trend resume in December, with year end reaching above 8% compared to previous year.



ELECTRICITY DEMAND IN CHINA DROPPED QUICKLY WITH CONFINEMENT MEASURES

Electricity demand in China dropped under lockdown in January, and more strongly in February. Part of the difference was due to February being significantly colder in 2019 than in 2020 in China.


As confinement measures were eased, electricity demand showed the first signs of recovery. From April 2020, electricity demand in China recovered completely and was back on pre Covid-19 trends. From August 2020 on, the weather corrected demand was systematically 6% higher than 2019 levels.



THE SHARE OF RENEWABLES IN THE ELECTRICITY GENERATION MIX QUICKLY INCREASED WITH LOCKDOWN MEASURES

Across all major regions, the power mix has shifted towards renewables following lockdown measures due to depressed electricity demand, low operating costs and priority access to the grid through regulations.


In the United states, natural gas has remained the leading source of electricity from March onwards, while renewables far outplaced the contribution of coal-fixed power plant as the first measures of confinement were put in place and demand decreased. In June, as strait of government response

Softened, natural gas consolidated its leading position. In July and august, coal and nuclear peaked

up to respond to growing demand. In August, the total electricity generation was much higher than in

2019 at the same period, as temperatures were higher, and this increase of demand was satisfied by

Increasing coal and higher wind generation. In September, significant temperatures drop lead to a decrease of cooling demand, and total generation to lower levels than in 2019, especially affecting coal power production. In October, total generation levels were on par with 2019, and the electricity mix trends were seasonal. In December, the decrease of wind and, solar generation lead to overall decline of renewables share.


In India, the gap between coal and renewables significantly narrowed after the first lockdown measures were taken, with renewables reaching just over 30% in mind August. By the end of November, the share of renewables in the electricity mix was just below 20%, in line with start of the year pre. Covid 19 levels. Since late May 2020, levels of electricity generation was higher than in 2019 for the first time since the beginning of lockdown, maintaining this trend for four consecutive weeks.


However in the last two weeks of August, the trend inverted with lower generation levels than those observed in 2019, driver by lower demand. In September and October, electricity generation was back on its growing path. By mid-to end November, the upward trend inverted again and returned to 2018 levels due lower demand associated with a combination of seasonal and incidental factors. The upward trend resumed in December.


In China under confinement, as electricity demand decreased, a large reduction of coal-fixed power generation occurred with progressive release of lockdown measures starting in the second half of march, the coal share recovered slightly, while renewables maintained a high share in the mix. In June and July, with growing hydro electricity generation in the Chinese mix due to new capacities and heavy rains, the share of renewables increased further. In November, with decreasing hydro electricity generation due to seasonal constraints and stronger demand, coal picked up again.



NO ELECTRICITY BILL CONNECTION, RECOVERY BY BANKS FOR NOW: KERALA CHIEF MINISTER PINARAYI VIJAYAN ORDERS AMID COVID SURGE

The Chief Minister said that the state police will help people get medicines and also spread Covid awareness through social media.


In a bid to ease the financial burden on people owing to difficulties arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday (5 may) ordered that there will be no collection of pending bill arrears by the electricity board for two months.


He also asked from banks to stop all recovery proceedings as the people were going through a tough time.

Banks should stop all recovery proceedings considering the pandemic situation people are going through. Kerala state electricity board and Kerala Water Authority have been asked to stop collect pending bill arrears for two months,” Vijayan was quoted as saying by ANI.


The Chief Minister further said that the state police will help people in arranging medicines and also spread Covid awareness through social media.

Those who need emergency medicines and are unable to go out can seek the help of Kerala police to buy medicine by calling the police control room.”