UP hands over probe into power blackout to STF

By: |
August 14, 2020 5:00 AM

The UP power sector is infamous for its AT&C losses. They stand at a whopping 30% in 2019-20. The state government has drawn up a plan bring down the AT&C losses to 15% by March 2024.

It was expected to significantly improve the discoms’ billing efficiency and ensure consumer satisfaction.It was expected to significantly improve the discoms’ billing efficiency and ensure consumer satisfaction.

Large parts of Uttar Pradesh were shrouded in darkness on Wednesday, plunging lakhs of homes in several cities, including Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Noida, Mathura and Meerut in darkness for hours and forcing thousands of angry consumers to protest outside sub-stations.

Power connections of lakhs of domestic consumers were snapped with the smart meters installed in them displaying ‘disconnection due to non-payment of monthly arrears’. This happened despite the fact that many domestic consumers said they had cleared bills. According to officials, the smart meters were “inadvertently disconnected” due to some technical error.

While a high level probe had been ordered by Uttar Pradesh power minister Shrikanth Sharma into the sudden ‘blackout’ in lakhs of homes on the occasion of Janmashtami, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has taken a strong exception of the matter and ordered a probe by the UP STF and said that strong action would be taken against those responsible for the slip-up.

It may be mentioned that implementation of the smart meter programme is a step towards reforming the power sector and is one of the operational performance parameters of the Centre’s UDAY scheme as they would eliminate the need for the meter reader’s visit to each and every consumer.

It was expected to significantly improve the discoms’ billing efficiency and ensure consumer satisfaction. UP had signed an MoU with EESL to replace 40 lakh conventional metres with smart metres in 2018 and as many as 10 lakh smart meters have already been installed.

In a series of tweets last night, the Director (Projects) of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), Venkatesh Dwivedi said, “Due to technical error some smart meters were inadvertently disconnected in UP today, despite non pendency of bills. All smart metering services have now been restored.” He also said that the state heads of the EESL and L&T had been placed under suspension for dereliction of duty.

However, despite his claims, many consumers continued to tweet that the electricity supplies had not been restored till midnight.

Apologising for the inconvenience caused to the consumers, UPPCL chairman Arvind Kumar too tweeted that disconnections have been reported of smart meter consumers despite non-pendency of dues and informed that the state head of UP EESL and project manager of L&T have been suspended for the lapse.

The companies that had bagged the contracts to supply these smart metres are L&T, Genus Power and Allied Engineering. Among the three companies, while Genus Power was to supply 50% of the order, L&T was to supply 30% while Allied Engineering the remaining 20%.

The UP power sector is infamous for its AT&C losses. They stand at a whopping 30% in 2019-20. The state government has drawn up a plan bring down the AT&C losses to 15% by March 2024.

Taking suo moto cognizance of the “mass disruption of electricity supply”, UP power regulator has issued a notice to all discoms and MD UPPCL and asked for a detailed report of the root cause of the lapses by August 17.

Stating that the sudden disruption of electricity to consumers having smart metres despite them having credit balance in their pre-paid account was a gross violation of the UPERC Electricity Code, 2005, the UPERC chairman, RP Singh said that the suden snapping of load could have hampered the security and stability of the grid.

The Commission also asked for the number of consumers whose supply had been interrupted and the names of the persons accountable for the lapse, alongwith the remedial measures that would be taken to ensure that such an incidence is not repeated.

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