Network Transformation: CESC gears up to implement its smart grid project

CESC gears up to implement its smart grid project

Engaged in coal mining, and power generation and distribution, CESC Limited is a fully integrated, and the oldest, private electricity utility in India. The company serves more than 3 million customers across an area of 567 sqaure km in Kolkata and Howrah. CESC aims to provide quality and reliable power to the city. To this end, it has taken several initiatives to upgrade the city’s electricity distribution infrastructure. These include the installation of automated meter reading solutions in distribution transformers and automated ring main units. Continuing its efforts to modernise the distribution grid, the utility has now embarked on a large-scale smart grid project. Smart Utilities takes a look at CESC’s smart grid project…

Smart grid vision and roadmap

In 2012, CESC had received a grant from the United States Trade and Development Agency to conduct a feasibility study for the implementation of smart grid technologies across its power distribution network. The study helped in developing specifications for a smart grid implementation roadmap. As a part of the roadmap, CESC plans to take several initiatives in order to make the grid smarter and more robust. The  smart grid project is expected to take about 10 years to complete. It is centred on a state-of-the-art outage management system-centric SCADA/EMS/DMS system. The project comprises four major building blocks, which are as follows.

The first block includes advanced metering infrastructure, distribution automation and internet of things. In this block, the utility plans to establish a field area network (FAN) consisting of hybrid technology – a radio frequency mesh, programmable logic controllers and general packet radio service – which would connect all the field devices. The FAN, along with the utility’s high speed optical fibre network, will be connected to multiple head-ends, which, in turn, will be connected to a meter data management system. In addition, the utility plans to replace all its existing meters with smart meters over the next 10 years. This will generate huge volumes of data, which will require an appropriate IT architecture, which forms the second major block. The third block comprises the classical information technology programs including utility customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence and analytics, enterprise asset management, enterprise resource planning and geographic information systems. The fourth block of the project will consist of remote terminal units in substations and distribution transformers, demand response (DR) systems, solar photovoltaic systems, storage systems, distributed energy sources, and electric vehicles.

The utility is working towards the smart grid vision and has engaged some technology partners to implement the planned initiatives. CESC has collaborated with Silver Spring Networks to deploy an advanced, multi-application smart energy and smart city network in Kolkata. In its initial phase, the project involves the deployment of about 25,000 smart meters in a high-loss-making locality of south Kolkata with a cloud-based software service. In the CRM space, O-Power, a US-based firm, is undertaking customer analytics. Another American firm is working on a DR project with CESC.

The way forward

CESC plans to engage a technology partner to take this initiative forward. To this end, it had issued a request for proposal through which it has shortlisted five technology partners. The selected partner will be responsible for not only supplying the central system to CESC, but also for integrating other peripheral systems with the central system and coordinating with the other technology partners who are working on this system. Further, the utility plans to migrate from the current “simple network control centre” to an “integrated smart grid control centre”. Work has already commenced on this front.

Based on a presentation by Debashis Roy, Vice-President, IT, CESC Limited