While the government looks to help India’s power distribution companies emerge from distress, smart meters can actually prove to be a convenient solution to the same and may help in saving up on collection and billing losses.
While the government looks to help India’s power distribution companies emerge from distress, smart meters can actually prove to be a convenient solution to the same and may help in saving up on collection and billing losses. “Investing in smart metering solutions would drastically improve metering, billing and collection (MBC) efficiencies, and thereby maximise revenue,” a report by CRISIL said on Monday. In fact, utilities, which have smart metering infrastructure installed, reported 95% billing efficiency in the first quarter of this fiscal, when the lockdown was in force, and generated additional revenue of 15-20% per meter for discoms, the report cited data from Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL).
According to data by EESL, discoms can garner additional revenue of over Rs 100,000 crore annually from unbilled electricity as smart meters increase metering, billing and collection (MBC) efficiencies. As of now, India currently has nearly 3 million smart meters while a whopping 270 million meters are still traditional. India will need to spend Rs 65,000 crore to make a switch from traditional meters to smart meters.
Benefits to consumers too
Smart meters have many benefits for discoms but may also prove of some use to consumers too. “With smart metering infrastructure, discoms can introduce time-of-day tariff by tracking real-time consumption. This will also enable consumers to select economical and convenient time slots,” the CRISIL report said. How does this help consumers? Users may choose to charge their electric vehicles during off-peak hours, and can enjoy substantial savings, while discoms manage peak load.
India’s power distribution sector is ailing with huge AT&C losses and MBC inefficiencies. As of May 2020, the discoms owe Rs 1.16 lakh crore dues to power generation companies. The government has also jumped in to save the sector and announced privatisation of discoms, starting with the union territories and eventually targeting states with high AT&C losses. The government has also provided Rs 90,000 crore liquidity support to discoms in view of the pandemic and ailing financials under its Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan stimulus package. The Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) also aims to improve the discoms’ overall financial health.