Business News/ Industry / Energy/  France’ EDF to roll-out smart meters in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh

New Delhi: In what may help India reduce its electricity distribution losses, state owned Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has roped in French government-owned power utility Electricite de France SA (EDF) for putting up five million smart meters in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.

Creating a smart meter architecture minimises human intervention in metering, billing and collection process and helps in reducing theft by identifying loss pockets. It requires a two-way communication network, control centre equipment and software applications that enable near real-time gathering and transfer of energy usage information.

“This contract has been jointly awarded to EDF IN (95%) in consortium with Accenture Solutions Private Limited (India) (5%), with EDF as the leader. The consortium will deliver a full range of services from meter installation to integration with the existing billing system of electric supply companies, starting with the states of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar," the French embassy in New Delhi said in a statement on Friday.

According to the Indian government, the aggregate technical and commercial losses (AT&C), which reflects transmission and collection efficiency, came down to 18.75% from 20.7% in FY16. Given the electricity demand growth projection in the country; the plan is to reduce it to below 12% by 2022, and below 10% by 2027.

EESL’s smart meter program plans to replace 250 million conventional meters that will result in increasing the discoms’s annual revenues to Rs1.38 trillion. This assumes significance given that the distribution sector holds the key to the long-term fortunes of the power sector.

With 8500 crore losses suffered by electricity distribution companies or discoms, there is also a growing focus on insulated ariel bunched cables (ABC) to prevent pilferers using hooks on the non-insulated cables to tap free electricity. A case in point being Uttar Pradesh, wherein 3.4 million households were tapping power illegally, Mint reported on 10 December.

Distribution companies have so far been the weakest link in the electricity value chain. According to government data, discoms registered losses of 15,049 crore in FY18. In states such as Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Andhra Pradesh losses have doubled. Also, as on September 2015, the total debt of all state owned discoms was estimated to be around 2.45 trillion, with 80, 00 crore serviced by the states.

EESL has been offering large procurement contracts in the energy sector enabling businesses to leverage scale and achieve economy to bring down prices. The massive scale of government’s UJALA scheme helped reduce the price of LED lights significantly.

There has been a growing cooperation between EDF and Indian electricity utilities. Tata Power Delhi Distribution (Tata Power-DDL) last week inked an agreement with EDF owned Enedis for a pilot project, that may be scaled up to help protect the national capital’s critical and strategic infrastructure from an electricity grid failure. The European Union funded pilot project is in collaboration with other firms such as Schneider Electric, data analytics firm Odit-e and Helsinki based VaasaETT.

Utpal Bhaskar
"Utpal Bhaskar leads Mint's policy and economy coverage. He is part of Mint’s launch team, which he joined as a staff writer in 2006. Widely cited by authors and think-tanks, he has reported extensively on the intersection of India’s policy, polity and corporate space.
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Updated: 18 Mar 2019, 08:39 AM IST
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