India's electricity use plummeted to levels last recorded in March 2015, government data showed on Saturday, due to a nationwide lockdown to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.
India used 2.59 billion units of electricity on March 27 - the third day of the three week national lockdown ordained by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That was lower by nearly a fourth compared with the average consumption during the first three weeks of March before the lockdown was enforced.
The energy hungry nation's power consumption was lower on March 1, 2015 - when the country's total electricity generation capacity was more than 25 per cent lower than the current potential.
Barring three eastern states, all regions registered a fall in demand as all offices and industries other than those considered essential have been shut.
Power sector experts say essential industrial activity such as mining in mineral-rich states such as Odisha and Jharkhand, which also produce steel, could have resulted in higher electricity use.
Electricity consumption in auto manufacturing states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu saw power use falling over 26%, while the western state of Gujarat saw a 43% fall compared with the first three weeks' average.
Bihar, a state heavily dependent on agriculture with relatively low industrial consumption, used higher than average electricity, raising concerns that the shutdown may not have been fully observed in all areas.
Relatively higher temperature could have contributed to increased residential consumption.
The Chairman of Bihar State Power Holding Company Ltd did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. The Managing Director of South Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd was not reachable.
Power analytics firm EMA Solutions' real time data showed higher consumption in Bihar during most parts of the day except from 0600 hours to noon.
Consumption in Bihar rose to 76.3 million units, over 10 per cent higher than the average during the first three weeks of March. India's third most populous state has recorded higher power use on all three days of the lockdown.
Uttar Pradesh, the state's neighbour to the east which saw higher electricity use on the first two days, witnessed a decline in consumption on Friday, the data showed. The state's use of electricity in the night and early morning fell significantly, EMA data showed.