Power Theft

10 Million pre-paid meters to to curb line loss and power pilferage

UPPCL through Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), floated a tender for supply of 10 million prepaid metres in November last year. Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Genus Power and Allied Engineering bagged the contracts. While Genus Power Infrastructures would supply 50% of the order, L&T would supply 30% and Allied Engineering the remaining 20%. The metres are estimated to cost Rs 13750 Million. Work on installing the meters will begin in rural areas from June 1 and the process is expected to take a year’s time.

In the biggest ever move to curb line loss and power pilferage to bring down the cost revenue collection, UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) has undertaken the task of installing a whopping 1 crore pre-paid meters under Saubhagya Scheme.

In April, 2017, the UP government signed an MOU with Union Power ministry’s `Power for All’ which aims to provide power connection to more than 4 crore rural households by the end of December this year.

“We are facing the twin challenge of providing power connection to every household in the state by the end of this year and ensure turnaround of UPPCL and its subsidiary power distribution companies (Discoms) by bringing down line losses to 15 percent as mandated by the power regulator in November last year,’’said a UPPCL official.

The official further said, “Union Eergy ministry has laid down that Discoms failing to bring down line losses to 15 percent will not be eligible for loan from Power Finance Corporation and rural electrification.’’

Pre-paid meters will be installed in 13 districts which have been reporting maximum line losses and these include Kanpur, Varanasi, Meerut, Gorakhpur, Bareilly and Lucknow. This would allow consumers to recharge their meters in advance, akin to how mobile phones are recharged. Consumers can recharge their metres with a sum as small as Rs 50.

The Centre plans to do away with human interface in power distribution system by March, 2019, as part of its agenda of bringing down line losses suffered by Discoms.One way of doing this is to achieve 100% metring of all households. Mandatory installation of pre-paid metres for small consumers and smart metres for large ones is in line with the government’’s ‘Saubhagya Scheme’ which aims to provide power to all households by March 31, 2019.

The power system in the state has been infamous for line losses. The Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses of UP’s five Discoms stood at 27.35 percent at the end of March, 2018, as against 32.38% at the end of 2016-17. This was marginally down from 32.4% when the state joined Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) for revival of debt-ridden state Discoms.

An UPPCL official looking after pre-paid metre installation work said that the Corporation has launched a multi-pronged strategy to tackle losses. “By March, 2019, all homes in the state will be provided uninterrupted 24-hour power supply. For this, it is necessary that we get meters in every household.”

“The outcomes would be two-fold. One, it would reduce cost of bill collection as against per capita consumption. Since rural consumers use minimal power, it does not make sense to have a large machinery for revenue collection. Second, it would improve efficiency of Discoms. It is imperative that all consumers have metered connections if line losses were to be reduced,’’ he said.

Interestingly, of these 1 crore pre-paid metres, 1 lakh would be installed in government establishments.

“This is a herculean task but has the potential to turn around Discoms. With every connection metered, improvement in compliance of bill payments will be guaranteed. It would also do away with human element in metre reading, billing and recovery of bill from consumer,” said the official.[Courtesy:The Pioneer]

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