Concerted Efforts: DHBVN’s initiatives to improve AT&C losses and billing efficiency

DHBVN’s initiatives to improve AT&C losses and billing efficiency

Aggregate technical and commercial losses (AT&C) losses are a crucial param­eter for determining the efficiency of the network. Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) is one of the two discoms of Haryana that has been taking proactive steps to reduce its AT&C losses. It is now operating at an AT&C loss level of 15 per cent, against about 26 per cent in 2016-17. In the past six years, DHBVN has been able to bring its AT&C losses down by 11 per cent. DHBVN has also been recording pro­­fits continuously since financial year 2018. With concerted efforts and a significant improvement in its annual rating since financial year 2015-16, DHBVN has become one of the top five discoms in the country. Moreover, in the ninth annual integrated rating for 2019-20, the discom received an A+ rating.

Discom profile

Operational in the southern part of Haryana, the dis­com is operational in 11 circles across 30 di­vi­sions, serving a consumer mix of 3.8 million across 55 towns and 3,655 villages. The consumer base in the rural sector is quite significant with a manpower of almost 18,000, comprising 9,000 regular employees and almost 10,000 outsourced employees. The peak demand of the discom is almost 5,000 MW, and energy sales are approximately 24,000 BUs.

In terms of geographical demarcation, Jind and Bhiwani are two areas that have high AT&C losses since these are predominantly agricultural ar­eas. Gurugram and Faridabad have single-digit AT&C losses due to many industrial consumers creating a tangible impact on the overall reduction of AT&C losses.

Key initiatives for loss reduction

In the past, DHBVN has faced various challenges in terms of high AT&C and T&D losses, especially concerning billing efficiency. The power supply position in villages was not good and a predominant culture of electricity theft prevailed in the en­tire state. As a result, the discom posted a financial loss of almost Rs 200 billion in 2015-16.

To bring down AT&C losses, the discom has im­plemented various measures and reforms under the flagship programme launched by the state government, the Mhara Gaon Jagmag Gaon (MGJG) scheme, as well as the central government’s previously launched Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana.

A key part of reducing AT&C losses in the short term was weeding out billing accuracies. To this end, the discom introduced the concept of reading meters through downloadable devices to eliminate human intervention. Meter readings we­re directly downloaded using handheld devi­ces from the meter, thereby improving the overall billing efficiency. Billing efficiency, which was around 70 per cent in 2015-16, is now close to 90 per cent. In the future, the discom expects its billing efficiency to further improve with the implementation of smart prepaid metering in the state.

Apart from this, key improvements were made in the overall network, especially in terms of meter relocation. In Haryana’s urban areas, almost 95 per cent meters are now outside the premises. The same has been done for rural areas as well, where around 80 per cent of meters are currently relocated. In rural areas, under the MGJG sc­he­me, the refurbishment of the network is being done, while old meters, be they electrostatic or me­chanical meters, are being replaced with downloadable electronic meters.

The discom has been encouraging responsible participation from villages as well. In villages, where bills are paid regularly and AT&C losses are low, the discom is supplying electricity ba­sed on the urban areas pattern. With this, supply ho­urs in rural areas have increased from 12 hours to 18 hours and these villages are now at par with urban areas. The confidence among vill­a­gers, and their proactive and responsible participation to ensure efficient usage of electricity have helped the utility to reduce AT&C losses. Nearly 3,600 villages are covered under this initiative, and 75-80 per cent of work related to this has been completed. More villages are being brought under this initiative.

In terms of revenue management, the discom has paid off government dues well in time, im­proving its collection efficiency since 2017-18. DHBVN has been able to maintain its collection efficiency close to 100 per cent. Moreover, to include rural consumers in a regular paying do­ma­in, some amnesty schemes have been laun­ched for the clearance of dues in outstanding rural areas. For instance, the discom has introduced a surcharge waiver scheme, wherein disconnected consumers that do not have electricity can come forward to settle their dues either in one go and or in six instalments, allowing reconnection to the supply system for getting electricity from the discom. Government subsidy on domestic electricity usage has been a good incentive for rural consumers, positively impacting the efforts to reduce AT&C losses.

The discom is also focused on penalising people for malpractices or unauthorised use of electricity. Extensive drives are regularly conducted to create awareness regarding efficient and res­pon­sible electricity usage.

Future plans

The discom is planning to participate in the newly launched Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme by the Ministry of Power, and is targeting single-digit AT&C losses for all its circles. To achieve this, DHBVN plans to aggressively im­plement prepaid-based smart metering for improving billing as well as collection efficiency. Around 0.5 million smart meters are being deployed by DHBVN in collaboration with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL). Of these, almost 0.175 million meters have already been deployed, with good results. Customer satisfaction towards billing data has been improving, and they can also access all information related to electricity usage on their mobile apps. The discom will also be focusing on overall improvement in its ageing infrastructure by bifurcating overloaded feeders and reducing technical losses considerably.

The discom plans to implement a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and distribution management system in Gurugram, Fari­dabad, and Hisar areas. For the other towns and regions, only the SCADA part would be im­ple­mented. In terms of communication technologies, DHBVN has implemented GPRS-based metering solutions in Gurugram with the help of EESL. Data is collected from GPRS meters while initiating the billing process, which has helped it achieve a meter reading of almost 95 per cent. Going forward, it is also looking at other technologies like RF to achieve a more reliable communication network. The discom believes that a hybrid app­roach would be much more reliable, which will be a mix of RF with GPRS, or in some cases low bandwidth GPRS.

With consistent efforts, the discom aims to bring down its AT&C losses to single digits in the coming years, while enhancing electricity supply for its consumers in rural areas.