Discoms in India are struggling with high aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses. In order to reduce these losses and maintain their financial viability, discoms have adopted a number of strategies. These include improving metering coverage, adopting new and advanced metering technologies and implementing better metering practices.
A look at the metering initiatives taken by some of the leading discoms…
The Madhya Pradesh Paschim Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran Company Limited (MPPKVVCL) has adopted a number of metering practices to mitigate the risks of power theft and revenue loss. The utility has deployed an in-house developed supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system on 33 kV feeders and a meter data acquisition system on all 33 kV and 11 kV feeders for continuous monitoring. It has put in place an automatic meter reading (AMR) system for high tension (HT) consumers, which enables billing without human intervention. Going ahead, the discom is also planning to introduce the AMR system for high-value low tension (LT) consumers. For low-value LT consumers, photo-based meter reading is being implemented. In addition, the discom is encouraging the use of compact metering cubicles in place of conventional pole-mounted metering equipment. In dense and theft-prone areas, it has deployed composite meters with remote display for load profiling and anomaly detection.
MPPKVVCL is also planning to install meters in all households in the network and replace electromechanical meters with static ones. In addition, it has established an AMR cell for analysing the consumption data of both HT and high-value LT consumers. The data is being utilised for vigilance activities. Moreover, the discom has been carrying out distribution transformer-wise mapping of consumers at the 11 kV feeder level, thus covering every consumer in the value chain. Further, it plans to deploy the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system in two zones of Indore city under the Integrated Power Development Scheme. System strengthening in urban areas is already in progress as part of the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP). Under the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, the utility is planning to undertake the renovation and modernisation of existing substations with the construction of new 33 kV and 11 kV feeders.
A significant achievement of the utility has been the development of an in-house remote disconnection unit, which can disconnect a consumer line from a pole without human interference. The unit, currently at the development stage, will be monitored from the control centre. It will be equipped with sensors to record the current. The utility has installed an energy audit system (EAS), which can be used for measuring its transmission and distribution and AT&C losses. An additional feature of the EAS is that it is web based and thus can be accessed remotely. Users can also upload bill files for the calculation of sales data.
The metering landscape of Andhra Pradesh Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (APSPDCL) has evolved significantly over the past decade. In 2002, the utility replaced electromechanical meters with electronic meters and over the course of three years, witnessed an average increase of 10.16 per cent in its metered sales. Further, with the adoption of electronic meters the discoms, metered sales increased from 55.98 per cent in 2005-06 to 64.49 per cent in 2015-16. Meanwhile, the distribution losses of the utility reduced from 18.13 per cent in 2004-05 to 12.98 per cent in 2009-10, and stood at 8.48 per cent in 2015-16.
The utility has recently switched to automated meters. These are being utilised for several purposes including energy accounting, load forecasting, peak load management, demand-side management and commercial billing. As of March 31, 2017, APSPDCL had installed 42,415 meters with AMR across eight districts. These include 29,456 meters at the distribution transformer level, 6,872 meters at the 11 kV feeder level and 6,087 meters at the HT and LT levels. Along with AMR systems, spot billing machines, spot collection machines, Infrared Data Association port meters and any time payment machines have been installed to further improve billing and collection efficiencies. Widespread metering led to a significant reduction in AT&C losses from 20.65 per cent in 2005-06 to 11.84 per cent in 2015-16.
Along with metering, the discom has adopted several information and operation technology applications for the smooth functioning and monitoring of numerous parameters. In addition, several modules of systems, applications and products (SAP) have been implemented by the utility and a trained core team has been appointed to look into the day-to-day issues with SAP. The utility has also deployed the SCADA system for enhanced monitoring.
Further, the utility has implemented Part A IT of the R-APDRP. It has developed an in-house central billing system to facilitate the collection of payments from nearly 11.3 million consumers. The system has been integrated with all online revenue collection counters. A distribution transformer tracking system is in place to monitor the performance of distribution transformers. In addition, the utility has set up an online feeder supply monitoring system. Apart from initiatives being taken at the metering level, the utility has made efforts for the maintenance of the existing system. Periodic pole-to-pole inspection is carried out to detect meter tampering cases, unauthorised additional loads and defaulters. Moreover, timely checks are made to ensure load balancing.
Further, to ensure better communication with consumers, the discom has adopted the AP Vidyuthpravah application that provides information such as the demand met, shortages if any, surplus power available and power prices on a real-time basis. Consumers can also make comparisons of the real-time data available on the application with the previous day or the previous year’s data. All these initiatives have not only helped reduce losses, but have also enhanced the operational efficiency of the utility.
Jaipur Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Limited (JVVNL), among other discoms in Rajasthan, has employed advanced metering techniques to reduce its AT&C losses. It has installed digital meters with high accuracy for all consumers above the 10 kW level. For the remaining consumers, single-phase and three-phase meters have been installed. The discom uses remote meter reading systems for its high-value consumers, and common meter reading instruments to record details of low-value consumers. Further, energy audit modules have been deployed for the monitoring of losses.
To ensure security, the utility has installed tamper-proof meters that are equipped with enclosures for all high-value consumers. The discom routinely conducts checks to monitor meter health and undertake replacements, if required. Further, to ensure the proper calculation of electricity consumption, all agricultural connections have been metered. In addition, the metering of all 11 kV feeders and distribution transformers has been covered under the R-APDRP plan. Metering is also being used for consumer indexing, which is expected to help the utility draw informed conclusions. For AT&C loss reduction, effective disconnection drives are being conducted.
Further, to ensure a smooth billing process, the utility notifies consumers about any bill generation and payment defaults via SMS or email. JVVNL is also looking to set up an anti-power theft police station in every district to prevent meter tampering and thefts. The utility is also planning to adopt smart metering in a phased manner. In addition, the installation of prepaid meters at temporary connections as well as for habitual defaulters is proposed to be taken up. The installation of a time-of-day meters is also being planned. Meanwhile, the utility has proposed availability-based-tariff metering for open access consumers. Thus, JVVNL is focusing not only on putting metering infrastructure in place, but also on preserving it.
Utility experience indicates that metering is crucial for improving the efficiency of the distribution network and enabling the discom to deliver better services to its consumers. Improvement in the metering coverage at the national level has the potential to significantly reduce distribution losses, and help revive the segment. n
With inputs from presentations by Punit Dube, Additional Chief Engineer, Meter Testing and Purchase, MPPKVVCL; R.K. Choudhary, Superintending Engineer, Vigilance, JVVNL; and Sangeetha Rao, Chief General Manager, Planning, APSPDCL