West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) covers about 97 per cent of the total geographic area of West Bengal and caters to 70 per cent of the state’s power demand. It has a consumer base of 17.04 million. The utility has implemented a host of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) measures over the past couple of years to improve its functioning and efficiency. Some of them are discussed below.
The utility has adopted a meter data acquisition system (MDAS) to acquire meter data from remote metering devices to avoid human intervention and monitor important system parameters. Billing for 4,500 high tension consumers is carried out using modems and 12,600 modems have been installed at distribution transformer (DT) locations. The data is obtained from these modems and integrated with the MDAS. In addition, meter data of about 124 substations (integrated with the MDAS) is acquired automatically through GPRS. Meanwhile, meter data for about 495 substations, which is not obtained automatically, has been integrated with the MDAS by taking manual readings by engaging a vendor. Except automatic meter reading (AMR)-enabled DTs, meter readings of 16,600 DTs are taken manually by a vendor and then integrated with the MDAS.
One of the key challenges that the MDAS suffers from is loss of data. About 80 per cent of the data is retrieved and the rest is lost due to reasons like GPRS failure, low signal level, defects in modem, defects/dislocation of SIMs and defective meters.
Smart grid pilot project
WBSEDCL is in the process of implementing a smart grid pilot project in Siliguri, covering about 5,500 consumers at the 11 kV feeder level. The project was awarded to Chemtrols Industries Private Limited on June 6, 2015. Kalki Communication Technologies Private Limited is serving as the project consultant. Under this project, advanced metering infrastructure will be implemented, using smart energy meters. This will help in improving billing efficiency, peak load management, energy audit, signalling for load control, load curtailment beyond the sanctioned limit and customer satisfaction. The project envisages a total investment of Rs 81.1 million and is expected to be commissioned by March 31, 2017.
WBSEDCL has implemented an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution in a phased manner to integrate its key operations such as procurement, inventory management, projects, maintenance and human resource management. The financial accounting, material management and human resource modules were implemented in the first phase in April 2015. In the second phase, project system and plant maintenance modules were implemented in November 2015 and in the third phase, payrolls were made “go-live” across WBSEDCL in March 2016. The project entailed an investment of Rs 1.38 billion.
The centralised interactive voice response system (IVRS) has been implemented at WBSEDCL’s data centre (DC) in New Town where all agents of the five zonal call centres (ZCCs) are mapped. Any call through any existing ZCC primary rate interface line will first land in the IVRS and on selecting a specific option, the call will be diverted to the most idle agent in any ZCC. Mobile number registration and information on old docket status is also included with the existing IVRS call flow.
To prevent electricity pilferage and theft, WBSEDCL lays significant emphasis on testing of energy meters. While the general notion is that the burden of the potential circuit should be as low as possible and the meter should work accurately at low load at around 2 per cent Ib UPF, WBSEDCL believes that the meter should record energy at 1 per cent Ib UPF, preferably with an error band of ± 2 per cent without any drift in the tolerance of accuracy with time.
Further, in June 2016, WBSEDCL launched a mobile application, Vidyut Sahayogi, for better consumer services. Some of the key facilities provided by the app are filing of online applications for low and medium voltage connections with connection status, complaint management bill view and e-payment.
The utility has also integrated its payment system with e-Pradan (the integrated financial management system of the state government) to enable consumers to pay their energy bills/quotation for new connections of any government establishment using real-time gross settlement. Besides, geographic information system mapping of the 11 kV high tension network, low tension network and consumer indexing in 71 towns under the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme has also been completed by WBSEDCL.
Based on inputs from a presentation by Basab Kanta Moitra, Superintending Engineer, WBSEDCL