Power companies tap smart meters to change consumer behaviour pattern

Tata Power DDL is set to install smart meters for 20 lakh customers that will detect their usage pattern and help in managing the load


Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited will make an initial investment of Rs200 crore, which will cover roughly two lakh smart meters.
Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited will make an initial investment of Rs200 crore, which will cover roughly two lakh smart meters.

New Delhi: Consumers will soon start getting messages from local power utility companies to switch off an air-conditioner or any other high power consuming appliance to avert a power cut during peak hour.

For instance, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL), which supplies power in the north and north-western parts of the national capital region, is set to install smart meters for 20 lakh customers that will detect their usage pattern and help in managing the load.

TPDDL has selected Landis + Gyr Ltd., a unit of Toshiba Corp. for building the communication network and to install smart meters on the premises of customers, said TPDDL chief executive officer and managing director Praveer Sinha.

The investment in smart metering will help the company save 25 mega watt (MW) peak power requirement, said Sinha.

To meet the peak demand in mornings and early evenings, distribution firms have to get into ‘take or pay’ deals with power generation companies and have to pay a part of the power tariff even if the agreed power is not lifted. With data on usage pattern of consumers, distribution firms will be able to modulate the load and flatten the peak power demand by requesting consumers to use some of their appliance at non-peak hours.

A mall, for example, could be requested to switch off some of its escalators for some time, explained Sinha. “Smart metering will facilitate two-way communication between the consumer and the utility, reduce losses and help in delivering better service,” Sinha said.

It will also help in detecting attempts at tampering with the meter and address the issue of power pilferage.

TPDDL will make an initial investment of Rs200 crore, which will cover roughly 2 lakh smart meters. The cost will get built into the power tariff to the consumer. For consumers, shifting some of the power consumption to non-peak hours will bring savings as utilities will charge a lower tariff in those hours.

At present, this facility is available to large consumers who use 10 kilowatt per hour (kwh) is expected to be extended to those using 5kwh or more, said Sinha.

Sandip Mukherjee, chief executive officer of Landis + Gyr Ltd. India, said the company is in discussions with other utilities too to install smart meters and to build the wireless communication network required to operate it. That include Reliance Power Ltd-owned BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, which supply electricity to about 3.5 million residential, institutional and business consumers in Delhi and some of the state-owned utilities which are able to invest in smart metering, he said.

The BSES companies are in the process of covering consumers who use more than 500 units a month by the end of this year in the first phase installing smart metering.

The government’s revised power tariff policy announced in January 2016 recommends use of smart meters.

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