Interview

Smart Meters for Tackling Flow of Electricity : Kapil Mohan, Director, Ministry of Power,Government of INdia, India

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ICT occupies and important role in the distribution sphere. It primarily has two roles to play – to carry out electricity audit and accounting linked with GIS to track electricity fl ow to the distribution grid, and secondly to improve the consumer experience.

Please throw some light on the over
all scenario of the power industry in
India.

The generation of the electricity in
the country is met by the setting up of theUltra Mega Power Projects (UMPP). Even with having a regulatory commission/ statutory authority in each state, the government is unable to plan the clear distribution of the power supply for the citizens because of the unclear picture of the number of consumers in the power sector, in addition to the unannounced load shedding and the poor quality of power.

Electricity audit and accounting is
useful to determine the electricity losses, which  account for one-third of our power generation. Power is either wasted due to bad technology and bad state of the distribution grid or most of it is stolen. Electricity audit and accounting helps us determine where the unaccounted power is going. Data collected through the metering and billing module,` which oversees the electricity and cash fl ow, can determine the amount of unaccounted electricity. As far as services for our consumers are concerned, ICThas enabled a host of citizen centric services like knowing the status of their applications, online payment of bills, checking their power consumption, etc.

Government of India has planned
‘Power for All by 2012’. How do you see the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
towards achieving this goal?

‘Power for All by 2012’ is the fl agship programme of Government of India which aims to provide electricity to all the villages in the country by 2012. The programme Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) was launched by Government of India in April 2005, which aims to provide all the rural households the access to electricity along with giving suffi cient amount of electricity.In the ‘Power for All’ project, the capacity addition project and the RGGVY are the two main programmes which the government is currently working on.

In providing electricity to all the main
focus is on the grid management, whichmeans better power facility for all. The other focus is on equitable distribution of power which ensures the quality of power being supplied to the customers.

ICT occupies an important role in the distribution sphere. It primarily has two roles to play – to carry out electricity audit and accounting linked with GIS to track electricity fl ow to the distribution grid, and secondly to improve the consumer experience.

How do you see the role of ICT in generation, transmission and distribution of electricity? What is the outlook of the Indian power industry in transmission and distribution?

ICT plays a major role in Transmission and Distribution (T&D). With the help of the use of ICT, the government is able to track the energy fl ow, how much energy is going where and to which all places. It also helps in keeping a track of the point where the energy is being lost, helps in able to identify the lacunae. With the help of the ICT the government is also able to keep a track of which particular areas are consuming more electricity than what is allotted to them. The overconsumption of electricity results in grid collapse. It is important to monitor how much electricity is being drawn and in which areas.

ICT plays a role in maintaining the amount of electricity being used by particular states. The distribution sector has to deal with the losses in the power sector as they are the ones who deal with the consumers directly in the fl ow of the electricity. With the help of ICT the ministry of power can track the fl ow of electricity. All this information can be linked to GIS so that it becomes easy to know the exact situation of what is happening where, how much electricity is being used by whom. Effi ciency which is the core in the distribution sector is ensured.

How would the national grid resolve
the issues of transmission and distribution losses (T&D)?

To resolve the problem of load shedding, ICT plays a major role in the digitisation and the distribution of the grid. It will facilitate setting up of the basic electricity audit and the accounting system on the electricity grid. This will be helpful in giving a clear understanding of the consumption pattern on a real-time basis. With the use of the automated meter reading (AMR) at regular intervals, the data can be maintained and can be checked where the electricity is being lost, so that the measures of tackling the problem of electricity is taken up and worked upon. The automation of the meters is called smart grids or the smart meters which is a symbolic tool. It benefi ts both the consumers and the suppliers as it helps in managing the electricity and reduces the losses. The
consumption of electricity has to be done in a planned way so as to reduce the problem of the shortage or the collapse of the grid. To avoid the collapse in the grid, which can bring the daily life to a halt, real time intelligent grid is required which would shift the load of the peak hours during the non-peak hours and manage the infrastructure. Also with the help of customer relationship management (CRM) system, meter-cash process can be improved.

ICT plays an important role here
too, not only in the monitoring but also in predicting and planning of the operations. The work on energy accounting and distribution management system and the building up of smart meters has begun. Pilot projects in few cities have started. The aim is to reduce the T & D losses from 30% to 15% in the next 5 years.

Can you briefl y tell us about the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP)? Please name some states which are leading in R-APDRP implementation.

The Restructured Accelerated Power
Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP) focuses on improving fi nancial viability of state utilities and sustained reduction in losses. It seeks to reduce the level of electricity supplied and the monetary loss incurred by the government. R-APDRP intends to intensively use Information and Technology (IT) to enforce power reforms.

The schemes which come under RAPDRP
are renovation and modernisation of substations, transmission lines and distribution transformers, augmentation  of  feeders and transformers, feeder and consumer meters, high voltage distribution system (HVDS), consumer indexing, Supervisory Control and Data
Acquisition/ Distribution Management System (SCADA/ DMS) solution, computerised billing, etc.

SCADA/ DMS solution has been
implemented for real time monitoring and control of the distribution system. With this the remote infrastructure management of the grid can be done, sitting in a substation.The states which
have shown a noticeable success under R-APDRP are Rajasthan, West Bengal,
Gujarat and Bangalore. In other states, the work is in progress.

The Eleventh Five year plan focuses
on 100% electrifi cation in rural India. How close are we in achieving this goal and why is it still a challenge to provide electrifi cation in rural areas?

Currently, the electrifi cation of 76,000 villages have been done out of 1.18 lakh villages in the country. The whole programme will be completed by 2012. The critical focus is on the accessibility of the ‘electricity to all’ in the entire villages of the country.

The major challenge faced in the electrifi cation of the rural areas is the lack of proper infrastructure, which makes it diffi cult to do the wiring in the remote areas and the interiors of the villages. Also the load in the rural areas is quite low because of which, the major chunk of the village electricity load comes on the government as the villagers have to be charged a nominal price for the electricity. From the rural areas the revenue is very low, hence at the moment the supply of the electricity is very limited.

How signifi cant is the Public
Private Partnership (PPP) in the power sector? How welcome is the privatisation of the Delhi Power Distribution by the Government after a not so good experience in Orissa?

In the generation of the electricity, the private companies have been activelypromoted. In the next fi ve year plan which will be the 12th plan, the private sectors will have much more capacity than the public sector or the government. In transmission, initially, Power Grid Corporation of India was the major PSU in transmitting the electricity. But now the high voltage transmission lines have been given out on bid to the private sector. The Power Grid no more has the monopoly in the transmission of the electricity.

Though in the distribution phase of the electricity Government of India facilitates privatisation but it is not very actively promoted. Input based franchise which is the half privatisation of the government assets is promoted.

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