While the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP) is still under way, the Ministry of Power (MoP) has started considering a post-R-APDRP scenario. In November 2013, the ministry directed the India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF) to prepare the post-R-APDRP strategy. In response, the ISGF published a white paper in December 2013, exploring the possible extension of the functionality of the distribution system in the post-R-APDRP scenario. In January 2014, the MoP and the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) circulated a visionary document titled “Beyond R-APDRP” and invited suggestions and comments from various stakeholders on the same. While the R-APDRP was primarily a technical programme, post-R-APDRP plans will include the installation of more advanced smart grid applications.
The knowledge and expertise gained by the utilities while implementing the R-APDRP will facilitate the shift towards smart grids in the country. However, this requires modification in the current R-APDRP scheme and state-level policies as well as regulations.
As of February 2014, a total of Rs 380 billion of funds had been sanctioned under the R-APDRP, while only Rs 68.2 billion was disbursed to the utilities. In terms of physical progress, the state utilities of Gujarat, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra are at advanced stages vis-à-vis other utilities. Kerala recently launched a Rs 3.6 billion project to improve its power distribution services in Ernakulam, Fort Kochi, Thrikkakara, Tripunithura, Vypeen, Kalamassery, Aluva and Angamaly under the R-APDRP.
Projects under Part A (IT) are currently under implementation in almost all states except Odisha, which was recently included in the scheme. A total of 1,398 towns across 29 states/ union territories (UTs) are being covered under this part. Recently, the ministry also extended the deadline for Part A (IT) of the programme by two years considering the slow rate of adoption. However, it has also announced the provision for heavy penalties in the case of any further delays and refused to extend the deadline any further.
As of January 2014, the verification of baseline aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses by the Third Party Independent Evaluating Agency for Energy Accounting had been completed in 1,373 towns and validation of losses was completed in 1,169 towns. A total of 419 towns in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal were declared “go live”. Following this, all commercial business operations in these towns are currently being processed through IT systems, and energy audit reports as well as other management information system (MIS) reports are generated through IT systems.
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and demand management systems (DMS) are important tools for power utilities to monitor and control their distribution networks. As of February 2014, 72 towns across 19 states/UTs were being covered under Part A (SCADA) with a total sanctioned cost of about Rs 16 billion. The disbursements stood at about Rs 4 billion. The highest share of funds under the R-APDRP (Rs 400 billion) has been earmarked for projects under Part B. As of February 2014, a total of about Rs 310 billion had been sanctioned for Part B projects while Rs 41.1 billion had been disbursed. The coverage of Part B projects has been extended to towns with AT&C losses below 15 per cent and to those of religious or tourist importance regardless of their AT&C loss levels.
The MoP has also approved 14 smart grid projects under Part C of the R-APDRP. These projects will be implemented in Haryana, Mysore, Tripura, Kerala, Puducherry, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal and Rajasthan at a total investment of about Rs 3.5 billion, of which 50 per cent will be funded by the MoP.
The ISGF has defined the post R-APDRP scenario as “the scenario in which the IT and automation systems envisaged under Part A have been successfully implemented and baseline data framework is established; and AT&C losses are measured accurately”. The post-R-APDRP vision aims at greater technological advancements for large-scale adoption of smart grid systems and higher automation.
As per studies conducted by the MoP and the ISGF, the post-R-APDRP scenario should include:
- Automation of business processes: Automated business processes through enterprise resource planning will help utilities streamline operations and ensure improved regulatory compliance in aspects such as timely audit and submission of accounts. This will provide updated baseline data on the current level of AT&C losses of discoms and, therefore, help in determining the loss reduction targets. It will also be useful in tariff determination by state electricity regulatory commissions in the case of failure of discoms to file their petitions. The integrated business process automation solutions developed under the R-APDRP have adequate provisions to integrate ERP solutions in the post-R-APDRP scenario.
- Extending the scope of Part A: More towns should be added under Part A (IT and SCADA/DMS) by expanding the criteria to achieve greater AT&C loss reduction. As per the assessment of the ISGF, all district headquarters, towns with a population of more than 5,000, fast emerging industrial towns like Gurgaon and Noida should be included in the post-R-APDRP programme for IT and SCADA/ DMS implementation.
- Load forecasting: For better network and power purchase planning, there is a strong case for incorporating load forecasting mechanisms which are supported by IT-based energy monitoring systems. Data available from R-APDRP systems should be used for short-, medium- and long-term forecasting of load for every category of consumers at various time intervals and across seasons.
- Prepaid metering: Of late, many utilities have introduced prepaid metering to improve revenue collection. However, prepaid metering systems involve high costs. Hence, their commercial viability needs to be considered while taking up such projects.
- DSM: Utilities need to undertake demand-side management (DSM) for all consumer categories. In addition, smart meters and effective communication technologies should also be deployed for the effective implementation of DSM systems.
- Transformer monitoring systems: To manage network losses, utilities need to introduce distribution transformer metering in a phased manner to monitor all 33/11 kV (66/11 kV) substations for collecting real-time data. In addition, a strong communication network should be set up for all 33 kV and 66 kV substations.
- FCLs and FCCs: There is a need to adopt fault current limiters (FCLs) and fault current controllers (FCCs) to improve the insulation and useful life of equipment. These devices are capable of controlling fault currents to the levels at which conventional protection equipment can operate safely.
- Condition monitoring: For critical network assets such as transformers and switchgear, overhead lines and cables, real-time condition monitoring can help minimise network downtime and rationalise operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. With the help of low-cost sensors and monitoring devices, and penetration of communication technologies (even in remote areas), condition-based monitoring can be implemented in the distribution network.
- Implementation of HAN at the LT level: A home network or home area network (HAN) is a smart solution, which facilitates communication and interoperability among smart electrical devices installed inside or in the vicinity of homes.
Apart from these, the development of skilled manpower at the discom level is required for not only implementing highly technical systems under the R-APDRP but also for their O&M. This requires various levels of training and workshop sessions for employees. The ISGF is preparing a detailed document on the various types of training for different levels of employees on the request of the MoP. It will also prepare the content for various training modules in coordination with other agencies.
To implement the post-R-APDRP in a phased manner, the ISGF has proposed a road map for 2014-22. However, the ISGF has stated that there is a requirement for a discom-specific road map for the same. The ISGF’s study highlights the requirement for coordination among various national-level programmes like the Rajeev Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) and the Rooftop PV and Small Solar Power Generation Programme to incorporate strategies for strengthening the power distribution network. Along with this, state-specific policies and regulations are required for the successful implementation of the programme.
Although the current R-APDRP is facing several challenges, it provides a strong opportunity to transform the distribution network, which is considered to be the weakest link in the power value chain. The actual layout of the post-R-APDRP will depend on the key lessons from current projects.