In the past two to three years, there has been a spurt in the development of app-based monitoring portals in the power sector. The key apps developed for the sector are Vidyut Pravah, which provides information on electricity price and availability; Urban Jyoti Abhiyan (URJA), which provides information on discom performance in IT-enabled towns under the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS); Transmission Application for Real-Time Monitoring and Growth (TARANG), which monitors the progress of upcoming and under-construction transmission projects in the country; GARV, which gives an update on the status of village and household electrification; UDAY, which provides a detailed report on the progress of the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY); and Urja Mitra, which enables citizens to access real-time and historical outage information.
The app-based monitoring portals allow customers to track the progress of government initiatives and schemes on a real-time basis, thereby encouraging public participation in development work and increasing the accountability of stakeholders.
The following are the key features of app-based monitoring portals in the power sector…
Vidyut Pravah provides a snapshot of power availability in the country. It gives updated information on the average market clearing price in the day-ahead power market and surplus power at the power exchanges, power demand met (in GW) and power shortages including peak hour shortage and total energy shortage. The app provides data at all-India and state levels for the current time period as well as corresponding data for the previous day/year. The app developed by Power System Operation Corporation Limited was released in May 2016.
Vidyut Parvah is a user-friendly interface that allows stakeholders to visualise power availability and prices. It provides access to data from multiple sources such as states and power exchanges on a single platform. It allows the end-consumer to conveniently cross-check information provided by utilities regarding shortages with ground realities. In addition, by providing the detailed power availability scenario, the app allows discoms to adopt improved demand-side management practices including time-of-day tariff. Further, it helps the transcos, discoms, regulators and planners to undertake efficient network planning and the desired policy measures.
The URJA app provides information on discom performance in IT-enabled towns that are under the IPDS, the government’s flagship scheme for strengthening the distribution network in urban areas. The app developed by the Power Finance Corporation was released in June 2016. It comprises two dashboards – the consumer dashboard and the IPDS dashboard. The consumer dashboard captures consumer-centric parameters from the IT system created for the 1,405 IPDS towns. These include monthly performance of discoms with regard to consumer complaint redressal, release of new service connection, average number of interruptions faced by consumers, average duration of interruptions faced by consumers, number of consumers making e-payments, and aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses. Discom performance based on these parameters is uploaded on the IPDS website/ URJA app. The app also links consumers to the web portals of the respective discoms. Another feature of the app is that it provides discom-wise ranking based on aggregate results across consumer-centric parameters.
On the other hand, the IPDS dashboard provides discom-centric information such as the status of go-live towns (number of IT-enabled towns), supervisory control and data acquisition (number of control centres commissioned), urban system strengthening (number of projects completed), notice inviting e-tenders, feeder monitoring, and IPDS sanctions.
Overall, the app aims to enhance consumer connect and empowers consumers to seek better services from the discoms. This in turn aims to make the discoms more responsive and efficient, and puts pressure on them to deliver quality services. This would also create positive competition among the discoms for improving their performance.
Launched in August 2016, TARANG is an effective app for the transmission segment. It has been developed by REC Transmission Projects Company Limited. It provides the details of upcoming and under-construction transmission projects as well as the status of under-bidding projects. It tracks a wide gamut of projects including interstate and intra-state transmission projects approved by the standing committee on transmission, interstate projects to be awarded under the tariff-based competitive bidding route and the regulated tariff mechanism, intra-state projects notified by the states, and the green energy corridor projects. In addition, the app provides information about the transmission projects (over 220 kV levels) commissioned from the Sixth Plan period (1980-85) onwards.
One of the useful features of the app is that it provides the status of stalled transmission projects, along with the reason behind the delay such as right of way, challenges in obtaining forest and environmental clearances, and contractual interconnection and litigation issues. This increases the accountability of the stakeholders and expedites the development of projects.
Overall, the app increases transparency in the transmission segment. It ensures effective monitoring of ongoing transmission works, resulting in faster completion of projects. In addition, up-to-date information on the upcoming transmission projects would increase participation in the projects put up for bidding.
Rural electrification has been at the centre stage for the past two to three years with the government’s focus on 100 per cent electrification in the country. REC Power Distribution Company Limited, a subsidiary of the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), released the GARV-I app in November 2016, in order to apprise the citizens of the progress on rural electrification in the country. The GARV-I dashboard tracked the progress of rural electrification across 18,452 unelectrified villages as of March 31, 2015. The progress on various milestones the under village electrification scheme such as erection of poles, receipt of line material, stringing, receipt of distribution transformers (DTs), erection of DTs, completion of electrification, and energising and handing over of villages is tracked by electrical engineers and updated on the app on a real-time basis along with photographs. A village is declared electrified on the GARV app only when it is declared electrified by discoms and Gram Vidyut Abhiyantas.
To meet the 100 per cent household electrification target, the government has released the GARV-II app, which incorporates household-level data in greater detail and expands the scope of the dashboard to include all 600,000 villages in the country, as against 18,452 unelectrified villages (as on March 31, 2015) in the country tracked under GARV-I. The updated app, which is a significant step towards providing electricity to all the households, aims to meet the government’s target of full household electrification by 2019. A unique feature of the GARV-II app is the citizen engagement window called SAMVAD. SAMVAD aims to enhance participation of the public in the electrification process, by allowing citizens to submit feedback and suggestions, which are automatically forwarded to the concerned managing directors and superintending engineers of discoms through SMSs and emails on the dashboard, for online monitoring and further action.
The UDAY app disseminates information on the progress of discoms under the UDAY launched in November 2015, for improving the ailing distribution segment. The app, launched in January 2017, has been developed by REC. It provides information on the performance of discoms based on the various performance parameters envisaged under UDAY. These are financial indicators such as bonds issued, AT&C losses, average cost of supply and average revenue realised gap and tariff revision. The operational parameters are feeder metering (urban and rural), DT metering (urban and rural), electricity access to unconnected households, smart metering (above 500 kWh, and between 200 and 500 kWh), feeder segregation, rural feeder audit, and distribution of LEDs under the UJALA.
A key feature of the app is that it gives the post-UDAY improvement trend in discom performance. It provides details on the quarterly progress achieved by the state/discoms in the post-UDAY period. Another feature of the app is improvement barometers, which represent post-UDAY progress made by the state/discoms. The performance of the state/discoms is evaluated against the targets submitted under the scheme or the MoU projections. Based on the marks obtained on these parameters, the discoms participating under the scheme are ranked from best to worst, on a quarterly basis.
Another important power sector app is the recently released Urja Mitra, which provides outage information to consumers. The app, developed by REC Transmission Projects Company Limited, was released in May 2017. It serves as a notification platform, providing outage information through SMS/email/push notifications. By registering on the app, consumers would receive SMSs or email alerts on outages affecting their areas. Further, it allows consumers to submit information about power outages in their areas and lodge a complaint. Besides this, consumers can view power outages in any part of the country on a real-time basis.
The app aims to ensure that electricity consumers in the country have prior intimation of duration and cause of scheduled power outages, and post-fault intimation of unscheduled power outages. As of May 24, 2017, 45 discoms across 26 states/union territories have been registered with Urja Mitra.
National Ujala Dashboard
The National Ujala dashboard provides information on the number of LED lights distributed under the UJALA scheme. In addition, the app, which is updated on a real-time basis, provides information on the energy saved, saving in monetary terms, avoided peak demand and annual reduction in carbon dioxide emission with the use of LED bulbs. The app provides information on the all-India as well as state levels. Under the state level, the app provides information on the number of LED bulbs distributed at different regional locations as well as contact details of LED collection points in different regions.
On similar lines, the government has launched the National Pavan dashboard and the National Tubelight dashboard. These dashboards provide information on the number of energy efficient fans and tube lights distributed, as well as the energy saved, monetary savings, avoided peak demand, and annual reduction in carbon dioxide emission with the use of energy efficient fans and lights. This is an excellent step towards promoting the use of energy efficient lighting in the country. As per data from the dashboards accessed on May 26, 2017, 237,153,244 LED bulbs, 827,723 energy efficient fans and 2,237,853 energy efficient tube lights have been distributed.
Net, net, the launch of app-based monitoring portals is a step in the right direction. These enhance consumer satisfaction and participation in the government scheme, and increase the accountability of stakeholders. It is also expected to result in the timely implementation of government programmes.