North Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited (NBPDCL) is primarily engaged in power distribution across all 21 districts of north Bihar. NBPDCL’s area of supply comprises seven distribution circles – Motihari, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Purnea, Chapra, Samastipur and Saharsa – with 30 divisions, 92 subdivisions and a total consumer base of 3.96 million (as of September 2015).
The distribution company inherited very high aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses of about 59 per cent, thus making it crucial for it to improve its performance so as to bring down losses and achieve efficiency. As a result of its loss-reduction initiatives, the discom’s revenue increased to Rs 2,127 million in 2015-16 (up to October 2015) from Rs 799.7 million during the corresponding period in 2012-13.
As part of its loss-reduction measures, NBPDCL has released 2 million new service connections since March 2013. Defective meters on consumer premises are being replaced with static (electronic) meters while prepaid meters are being installed in government quarters and offices. All consumers are grouped based on distribution transformers (DT) for the purpose of energy audit and meter reading. DT-wise meter reading sheets have been issued to meter readers. The utility has also appointed a meter reading agency for meter reading and bill distribution in urban areas. Images of meters, and the signature and mobile number of consumers have been made mandatory for meter reading and sample checking. Meanwhile, remote meter reading (RMR) has been introduced for all high tension and low tension (LT) industrial supply (three-phase) consumers. RMR for all connections above 20 kW in the first phase has been completed and is being extended to connections between 20 kW and 50 kW. Further, the discom has launched a scheme for voluntary disclosure of load and created a customer facilitation centre for rectifying consumers’ bills and addressing their complaints.
Besides undertaking preventive maintenance of power transformers and DTs, NBPDCL ensures the replacement of burnt DTs within 24 hours. The discom uploads all electricity bills on the web for direct download by consumers and provides multiple payment options to consumers, such as real-time gross settlement systems, online payment, any-time-payment machines in all branches of Gramin Banks, Vasudha Kendras, block office counters, Paytm mobile application, mobile van, etc. In cases of non-payment of bills, a disconnection drive is conducted every month.
Some of the best practices adopted by NBPDCL are re-conductoring of dilapidated conductors and replacement of galvanised iron wires in 33 kV, 11 kV and LT lines with higher size conductors for a reduction in line losses; procurement of star-rated DTs for replacement and new distribution substations for reduction in transformation losses; implementation of urban and rural distribution franchise schemes; time-of-day metering for connections with a minimum load of 1 MW; use of aerial bunched cables for LT lines in dense areas and installation of prepaid meters.
The discom has estimated its loss for 2015-16 at 29.55 per cent. This can be attributed to a substantial increase in the number of consumers in rural areas, which have traditionally been high loss areas. As a result, the loss reduction achieved by the utility has been neutralised with the increase in supply to a larger number of consumers under the Kutir Jyoti Yojana and Domestic Supply I categories. The number of consumers to be added in the rural domestic category is 2.7 million every year, starting 2016-17. Bringing down the loss level in rural areas has been a challenge for the utility, even though it has been taking various steps to reduce its AT&C losses in these areas. It is thus expected that due to increased supply to the rural areas, the utility’s losses will increase in the short run. NBPDCL expects to decrease its loss level by 1.5 per cent annually to achieve a loss level of 25.05 per cent by the end of 2018-19.
As the utility enters the new control period, it is important that its loss trajectory is re-aligned to the actual loss level, making it possible for the utility to achieve its loss-reduction target.
Based on a presentation by Vijay Kumar, General Manager, Revenue, NBPDCL, at a recent Power Line conference