Mumbai: In an unusual campaign, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) is using fines collected from consumers who failed to reduce power consumption to promote power conservation in the city.
In 2005, the commission ordered those consuming over 300 units of power a month to reduce their electricity usage by 20%.
Those who didn’t oblige were forced to pay a load management penalty of Re1 for every additional unit consumed, said Malini Shankar, secretary, MERC.
The regulator collected around Rs10 crore this way, according to sources close to the development who did not wish to be named.
Now, part of the money is being spent to run an ad campaign across the city, urging consumers to save energy.
“The advertising campaign will take off in March and run through October, the period during which electricity consumption really peaks,” said a senior MERC official who didn’t want to be named.
The ads will be launched by three power companies—Tata Power, Reliance Energy and Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport.
Mumbai consumes approximately 2,200MW of power every day. In summer, however, the average demand for power goes up 10%.
People familiar with the matter said contracts for the ad campaign, which will run in print, radio and outdoor, have been awarded to local agency Marching Ants.
Part of the strategy is also to create awareness about the need to conserve power among students.
“In the long run, we may also consider engaging a non-profit organization to reach out to students in schools and other educational institutes,” said a senior executive of one of the power companies involved in the ad effort.