Our pricing could be a benchmark for future smart meter projects: Harmanjit Nagi, director and country head, EDF India

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Published: July 23, 2019 2:49:47 AM

EDF is not involved in manufacturing and supply of these meters itself. Smart meters are procured by EESL and provided to EDF by a separate tender

The phase of mass rollout, which includes installation of balance 4.5 million smart meters on ground, will start by end of 2019 and the entire rollout phase will be completed in about two years.

The government’s focus on 100% metering and converting all meters into smart and prepaid ones by the end of FY22 are seen not only to be consumer-friendly, but also improving balance sheets of cash-strapped discoms. French power utility EDF Energy has been awarded a government contract for putting up five million smart meters in the country, wherein the company will design, install and integrate a network, primarily in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

Following are excerpts from an interaction between Harmanjit Nagi, director and country head, EDF India, and FE’s
Anupam Chatterjee.

How important is the project for the company’s footprint in India?

India is an important country for EDF’s growth, and the contract awarded to EDF by Energy Efficiency Services (EESL), valued at 69 million euro (about Rs 534 crore in current forex environment), to install 5 million smart meters gives a fillip to the company’s development in India and clearly positions EDF as a major player in the smart metering segment in the country. EDF is responsible for designing the infrastructure, installing and looking after operations of the system for at least six years. This is a first-of-its-kind project and looking at the economies of scale, our pricing is very competitive and could be a benchmark for future projects.

What kind of challenges are you expecting?

As of now, EDF has plans to deploy 5 million smart meters across major Indian cities. Currently, the deployment process is simultaneously being carried out in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. Around 3,000 meters in Bihar and 800 in Andhra Pradesh have been installed. The discoms in each of these states have their own set of requirements and needs from the IT system along with specific context. Gathering all the requirements and developing a single IT system that could fulfil every requirement is one of the major challenges we have faced till now. Some of the challenges of rural areas are mitigated by deploying of Indian engineers and local partners.

What kind of employment is expected to be generated?

More than 20 people from EDF have been deployed full time on the project. This figure will gradually increase to more than 50. EDF has already hired 15 Indian engineers for building the IT infrastructure from the meter to the billing systems of discoms’ implementation. The contract won by EDF entails many job opportunities for other Indian companies. It is estimated that over 3,000 jobs will be created for smart meter installation in the rollout process.

Is the company also looking to take up such initiatives in other Indian states?

The potential of the Indian market is estimated at 250 million smart meters. We plan to carve our niche in India and are currently bidding for many smart meter projects across states. While, the end-to-end IT infrastructure — from the meter to the billing systems of the discoms’ implementation — is now completed, the final testing process is on. The crucial phase of the project —installation of 5 lakh smart meters on ground will soon be initiated. The phase of mass rollout, which includes installation of balance 4.5 million smart meters on ground, will start by end of 2019 and the entire rollout phase will be completed in about two years.

Where is the company sourcing smart meters from?

EDF is not involved in manufacturing and supply of these meters itself. Smart meters are procured by EESL and provided to EDF by a separate tender. Some of the manufacturing companies are GENUS, ITI, HEXING, etc.

How can smart meters help consumers?

Smart meters will enable customers to gain a control over their electricity consumption and would further enhance resilience of the network as the design of the meters includes a data supervisory control and management system. The IT solution developed in the project will have prepaid functionality at the customers’ end that will enable them to recharge their smart meters at any convenient point in time with their smart phones.

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