Dr Saket Kumar

By transitioning to clean energy technologies that yield sustainable growth, the government of Haryana is using renewable energy sources to achieve a competitive advantage embedded with sustainable development. Incorporation of these initiatives will help to reduce climate issues and carbon emissions, among other environmental problems, shared Dr Saket Kumar, Managing Director, Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN), in an exclusive interview with Priya Yadav of Elets News Network (ENN). Edited Excerpts:

As the Managing Director of Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam, please elucidate the key challenges presently faced in strengthening the electricity distribution infrastructure and enhancing service quality standards across the state. Also, could you highlight the strategic initiatives and reforms to address these challenges effectively?

Strengthening electrical distribution infrastructure poses several challenges. Timely replacement and upgradation of ageing electrical distribution infrastructure; meeting the infrastructure demand posed by rapid urbanisation and population growth; ensuring round-the-clock quality and reliable power supply to the consumer; implementation of an effective mechanism for consumer grievance redressal; checking theft of electricity and correcting the deficiencies in billing and collection efficiencies are critical areas of concern.

Haryana’s flagship scheme, Mhara Gaon Jagmag Gaon (MGJG) Scheme, was a significant initiative in this area. With high distribution losses, the rural domestic sector has historically presented the most critical obstacle to distribution efficiency. In the state’s rural domestic category, overall distribution losses exceeded 70%, and billing efficiency was below 30%.

Under the MGJG scheme, the Haryana government has invested heavily in upgrading the power infrastructure in rural areas. The scheme involved a complete overhaul and replacement of the LV Distribution system, meters, etc. Further, Consumers under the MGJG scheme have also been facilitated with Surcharge waiver and payments in installation.

All this resulted in a substantial increase in average running supply hours on RDS feeders. In FY 2022-23, the average running hours of UHBVN were 21 hours 9 minutes, which was 12 hours 40 minutes in FY 2016-17. Our AT&C losses for the corresponding period have also reduced from 30.75% to 10.32%.

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Could you discuss the targeted programs and modernisation efforts focusing on grid automation, smart metering, infrastructure upgrades, etc., to augment technical and commercial capacities?

UHBVN has always been the frontrunner power distribution utility for technology adoption and deployment. Grid automation, smart metering, and associated IT solutions are emerging technologies in the power distribution business field. For Smart Metering implementation, UHBVN has already replaced 5 Lakh conventional meters with smart meters and is targeting to return the balance of 27 lakh consumer meters with Smart Meters, which have prepaid billing options with end-to-end Feeder & DT level energy auditing. It is planned to replace the balance by December 2026.

With a focus on grid automation, adopting the Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) system will help provide reliable and quality power to the consumers; UHBVN has successfully executed the SCADA project in the industrial estate Kundli. In the area, SCADA helps in accurate time monitoring & control of 22 industrial 11kv feeders through 3 no: RTUs, 96 RMUs and 44 km optical fibre cable network. The system has increased the reliability of supply & operational efficiency by serving load through multi-fed systems.

Further, UHBVN is targeting to implement SCADA automation with DMS (Distribution Management System) in UHBVN in the next two years under the RDSS scheme of Govt. of India in 6 Major towns (namely Karnal, Panchkula, Panipat, Rohtak, Sonipat, Ambala) & 8 basic SCADA in 20 towns of UHBVN covering 256 no. substations & 1722 no. of 11kV feeders. Further, SCADA/DMS shall be integrated with GIS for network planning and consumer micro-level supply monitoring.

Finally, to augment our technical capabilities, the Real-Time – Data Acquisition System (RT-DAS) – RT-DAS was implemented in the Discom in June’23, covering 100% outgoing feeders, which has helped efficiently monitor the network.

Leveraging renewable energy resources holds immense potential for a greener and more sustainable power sector. What policy framework and renewable integration roadmap has been crafted to boost the share of solar, wind and other clean sources in Haryana’s energy mix over the medium to long term in an environmentally responsible manner?

In a significant move towards harnessing the potential of solar energy, the Government of Haryana has introduced a draft of a revamped solar power policy titled “Haryana Solar Power Policy 2023.” Discussions with key stakeholders are underway to finalise the Policy. Haryana has achieved its RPO targets for FY 2022-23 & 2023-24.

During the last five years, the purchase of RE power by Haryana Discoms has increased from 597.66 MU to 4485.63 MUs in FY 2022-23. In addition, in the last two years, 993.60 MW of RE PPAs have been signed by Haryana Discoms to increase the percentage of renewable power in its total power purchase mix. An additional Renewable capacity of 1641MW is expected to be injected into the system in FY 2024-25.

There is a focus on procurement of nuclear power as well. NPCIL’s Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Plant of 2×700 MW is currently under construction in Gorakhpur village of Fatehabad district. Haryana Discoms will purchase atomic power from this plant.

Please highlight some impactful collaborations and technological interventions that UHBVN has spearheaded to bolster operational efficiencies and augment power augmentation efforts.

To implement the energy efficiency programs to reduce overall electricity demand and alleviate stress on the distribution system, UHBVN has signed a MoU with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) to implement Demandside Management programs in UHBVN jurisdiction. Further, discoms have taken various initiatives in the way of the UJALA scheme in which energyefficient appliances have been distributed under UHBVN jurisdiction area, mandatory installation of 3-star rated agricultural pump sets for release of new connection, installation of micro-irrigation systems to save electricity, replacement of inefficient Air-conditioners with efficient airconditioners and to incentivise the customers to adopt demand response measures and participate in energy conservation programs.

Enhancing operational efficiency requires implementing a robust asset management system to optimise the lifecycle of distribution assets. UHBVN has completed mapping its electrical assets (viz. Substations, HT/LT network, Distribution Transformer, poles, etc.) up to DT level for all subdivisions and the LT network. The GIS database has mapped 608 Substations, 6116 feeders covering 68,080 km of HT line, 2386 km of EHT network, and 2,90,325 distribution transformers. This could facilitate regular maintenance, condition monitoring, and prioritising asset upgrades or replacements based on performance indicators.

What steps is the organisation taking to enhance consumer satisfaction, empower marginal consumers, bolster consumer advocacy and boost overall ease of business?

Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC), through the ‘Standards of Performance of Distribution Licensees and Determination of Compensation Regulations, has notified timelines for power disruption and release of connections. Adherence to the above has been a constant endeavour of the discom. Using customer engagement platforms to provide real-time information on energy outages, billing inquiries, and bill payments is now possible with the WhatsApp chatbot. UHBVN has also made the Trust reading Mobile App functional since 1st Feb 2024. This application allows consumers to generate monthly bills, offering flexibility in payment frequency. Proactive communication with customers improves satisfaction among consumers.

UHBVN is committed to raising marginal consumers’ living standards in the State. Hon’ble CM, also the Finance Minister, has announced removing Fixed Minimum Monthly Charges for consumers with consumption of up to 100 units per month and connected loads of up to 2 KW. It is a one-of-a-kind intervention in the country and will likely benefit 8 Lakh families in the state, giving them relief to Rs 275 crores. Further, the Default Settlement Scheme targeting Antyodaya families with a vision to help the families who are among the poorest has been launched by UHBVN.

What is the future roadmap envisaged to place UHBVN at par with global benchmarks of excellence in electricity access and customer services? Please share your vision for power development in the state through a sustainable, robust, people-centric power sector.UHBVN has the vision of becoming a frontrunner power distribution utility through a technology & consumercentric approach.

UHBVN is targeting to replace all 36 lac consumer meters with Smart Meters have prepaid billing with end-to-end Feeder & DT-level energy auditing under the RDSS scheme. It is planned to replace all the meters by Dec’26.

UHBVN aims to give each consumer category round-the-clock, reliable, quality power. To achieve this, UHBVN intends to implement the city-level SCADA with field automation for safe, reliable, and real-time operations of the Switchgears. It will also help us track outages in real-time and identify the root cause of the breakdowns.

Also Read | UPNEDA’s Holistic Approach to Sustainable Energy in Uttar Pradesh

UHBVN intends to have more IT penetration in its operations as we believe IT will enable more sustainable changes in operations by increasing controls at all levels. IT will also help improve the efficiency of operations and transparency across organisations.

Further, in line with the vision to empower farmers of Haryana and encourage them to use renewable energy sources for energy requirements in agriculture, UHBVN intends to provide daytime electricity to AP consumers from renewable resources by implementing the PM KUSUM Scheme.

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