Smart metering will be the top priority under the ₹3-lakh crore financial package announced in the Budget last month for the country’s terminally-ill electricity distribution companies.
“We have prepared the draft guidelines of the programme. The top priority will be smart metering, which the Centre will support fully under an OPEX model,” a senior official told BusinessLine.
The OPEX (operating expenditure) model is already on display in Bihar, where central public sector company Energy Efficiency Services Ltd is installing smart meters using a build-own-operate-transfer mechanism. The upfront investment cost is borne by the firm, and the State Discoms will pay it back gradually as their commercial losses decrease on the back of improved billing efficiency.
The second priority will be on reduction of technical losses. “Low-tension lines run for about 20-25 km and have a lot of technical losses. The feeder will be bifurcated, so that there will be two feeders for 12 km each,” the official said. The third priority would be on system strengthening such as building new substations.
“The Centre will fund these two components with a 60 per cent grant. Discoms can determine to fund the remaining 40 per cent through loans or another source of their preference,” the official said.