October 2018

Significant changes are disrupting the traditional power generation, supply and distribution business models, compelling utilities to innovate rapidly. These changes are being driven by factors such as ageing networks, greater environmental demands, multidirectional energy flow, new customer expectations, falling costs of renewable energy and the proliferation of e-vehicles. The integration of IT and OT solutions across the value chain is thus becoming essential for utilities to remain relevant and economical.

Over the past few years, the state discoms have received significant support from the government through flagship schemes such as the Integrated Power Development Scheme (including the erstwhile R-APDRP), the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and the National Smart Grid Mission for deploying new technologies. Also, private utilities have been at the forefront of adopting new technologies for optimising costs and improving service delivery. Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, distribution management systems, advanced metering infrastructure, outage management systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, feeder monitoring, geographic information system (GIS), and a host of other smart grid technologies are being introduced by utilities in cities covered under these programmes.

Another key area of interest for distribution utilities is deploying solutions that enable real-time, remote control or predictive maintenance to extend the life or operating efficiency of assets. Utilities are also slowly warming up to the adoption of new and emerging technologies such as IoT, big data and cloud as digital transformation gains momentum.

Further, oil and gas companies across the upstream, midstream and downstream segments have witnessed increased application of IT and OT solutions. Applications such as ERP, terminal automation system, smart metering and customer relationship management (CRM) are being deployed to automate business processes. Also, advanced solutions such as SCADA, GIS, satellite surveillance and remote sensors are being deployed for monitoring gas transmission pipelines.

In the water sector too, the adoption of IT and OT technologies is increasing. The popular IT systems and solutions being deployed by urban local bodies (ULBs) include SCADA, leakage detection systems, online bill payment systems and CRM. ULBs in Surat, Pune, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad have been particularly active in deploying smart waste technologies.

This issue of Smart Utilities highlights the experience of power utilities in implementing IT and OT technologies. It also showcases the key IT initiatives implemented by the Kerala State Electricity Board and Madhya Pradesh Paschim Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran Company Limited. Smart solutions deployed under the Indore Smart City project have also been discussed. In addition, the online bill payment solutions adopted by Vadodara Gas Limited have been discussed, as well as the e-governance initiatives taken by utilities in Nagpur, Jamshedpur and Pune.