Kurla’s first housing society to have installed a 20-kilowatt solar power plant, saves up to Rs 5,000 every month on electricity bills.
It’s a regular evening at Twinstar Cooperative Housing Society in Rupa Nagar, Kurla West. As the kids play around in the society premises after dark, with corridor lights shining bright, men and women, coming back from their tiring jobs, take one of the lifts back up to their houses.
However, the difference between this society and any other is that Twinstar’s residents rely on solar power for making these lights and lifts run.
Even the air-condition, lights, fans and a computer in the society office consumes the electricity generated through the newly installed solar plant.
In December last year, the society installed a 20-kilowatt (kW) rooftop solar power generation system. The gamble has proved to work after their electricity bills have been cut down by about 83 per cent. “We installed 60 panels for two wings. While our consumption is of 2,400 units of electricity per month, the system generates 2,000 units. This way we will now be paying only for the 400 units of electricity that we consume from the power grid,” says Mohammed Hanif Shaikh, the secretary of the society.
The society decided to switch to solar panels after they learnt from an Urdu magazine that Minara Masjid in Mohammed Ali Road, and Zakaria Masjid in Bandra, have switched to this alternative power source. “We had been mulling about installing solar panels for some time now, but we didn’t know whom to approach. When we read about the mosques switching to solar panels, we decided to talk to the same vendor that installed these power plants,” explains Hanif.
Green Power Projects Pvt Ltd, which set-up the plant for this society that has two seven-storey buildings, suggested importing the entire set-up from Singapore. And despite the set-up costing around Rs 15 lakh, the society members are confident that they will recover the amount in four years. “We didn’t take any loan for this; we used the society savings. We will be able to make use of free, clean electricity for 21 years — it is a long term investment,” elaborates Hanif.
The power plant provides lighting for two lifts, two water pumps, the common area, parking area and staircases in the society. The electricity generated by the power plant, however, supplies power only for the functioning of the two buildings and not each house.
Quiz the society on why this is so and Hanif says, “We can’t provide electricity to 56 flats because each has different consumption, which is difficult for us to reach.”
The panels have been functional since January, and this month will be the first bill cycle for the society. “Till now we would receive a bill of Rs 30,000 per month for two buildings. After the installation we expect to save up to Rs 25,000 per month,” reveals Samdani Shaikh, who serves as the chairman for the society.
While this initiative is helping the residents of Rupa Nagar in reducing their carbon footprints, the electricity generated in Twinstar is also helping the neighbouring societies. “We have two net meters installed: one is for the solar power plant; another, for the regular power grid. The electricity that the plant generates is sent back to the grid. This is then further supplied by the grid to the surrounding areas,” explains Hanif.
And even while the idea was to save on some bucks, this entire process has helped these Mumbaikars look at the larger picture. “It will reduce our bills for sure but it will also help us save the environment. This is our bit of contribution to nature,” concludes Hanif.