Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in the Budget last week that all existing electricity meters will be replaced by smart ones within three years. However, MSEDCL’s experience shows that they are not available in the market.
MSEDCL had floated a tender for purchasing pre-paid smart meters worth Rs160 crore in the second half of 2017. So far it has not been able to purchase a single meter despite re-tendering several times. A company spokesperson said, “We are unable to get offers for smart meters that meet our specifications. We will purchase meters only when they meet our specifications.”
The target for the discom was to replace 4 lakh meters in 10 cities where infrastructure augmentation works under Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) had been carried out.
According to the MSEDCL tender, the meters should download the energy consumption data every 15 minutes. The meter will also have to record whether the meter has been tampered every 15 minutes. Bill history and load survey have to be uploaded every 45 days.
The data read by the smart meter should be available at MSEDCL data centre at any moment. For this purpose the supplier has to install his own data collection software at the data centre and integrate it with MSEDCL software. There are several other requirements, which are technical in nature.
The spokesperson said that the company was installing radio frequency (RF) meters in high loss areas. “The RF meters are also smart meters although not as advanced as the ones we want to purchase. Thousands of RF meters have been installed in high distribution loss areas especially those coming under Jalgaon, Latur and Nanded circles.”
He further said that large number of incidences of power theft had come to fore after installation of RF meters.