Power outages have been recorded across India after the current heatwave pushed electricity demand beyond a peak level forecast for this month.

Daily blackouts have been reported by 38% of the 15,000 households surveyed by the advocacy group LocalCircles. While most shortages lasted four hours or less, some respondents said their lights were out for up to 12 hours. 

A similar survey carried out in February, when temperatures were lower, found that only 20% of the respondents was facing daily shortages.

This year’s blistering summer has boosted electricity demand in the country, as citizens turn on fans and air-conditioners for longer. The blackouts come in the midst of the weeks-long national elections, during which central and state governments have been under increased pressure to maintain uninterrupted supplies. 

“Coal stocks are extremely healthy,” said a Ministry of Power spokesperson, speaking about the fuel that provides more than 70% of the country’s power. “The current coal stock is at 45 million tonnes, compared to 34 million tonnes last year.”

Peak electricity demand in the country nudged past 235 gigawatts on Wednesday, a record for May and slightly above the power ministry’s forecasts for the current month. 

“The measures we have taken have enabled us to meet this demand and will continue to do so,” the spokesperson said.

Electricity demand in New Delhi maxed out at 8 gigawatts on Wednesday, a record high. 

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