Monday, June 05, 2023


Smart meters project for privatising power distribution- PSEBEA

VINOD GUPTA | March 31, 2023 07:42 AM

CHANDIGARH: PSEB Engineers Association has termed the conditions imposed by the Ministry of Power for installation of smart meters as a backdoor entry of privatisation of power distribution in Punjab.

The Association has written a letter to the Chief Minister on Wednesday that the acceptance of conditions being imposed for the smart prepaid metering project is detrimental to the financial interests of the state power sector and as such cost / benefits and other aspects should be deliberated with all the stakeholders before implementing an expensive project.

“ Advanced Metering Infrastructure Service Provider” (AMISP) for smart prepaid metering is for a period of ten years. They will purchase meters through its own suppliers, then installation of smart meters against new connections or replacing old meters and receiving payment and resolving complaints of consumers will be his responsibility for a period of 10 years. This condition will result in PSPCL having no control over its source of revenue. Even PSPCL cannot interfere in the area allotted to AMISP. PSPCL will have no right to develop its own system without the consent of a private party.

For any non -performance of AMISP, penalty cannot be imposed beyond 20% of any AMISP charges means 80% revenue to AMISP is guaranteed even without providing any service.

The proposed total expenditure of Rs. 5768 crores on smart metering and with a grant of Rs.875 crores , there is a gap of Rs.4900crores, which will be funded by PSPCL through loans. Power Finance corporation has agreed to give loan with the conditions.

The present cost of a new smart meter is around Rs.6600 per meter and the grant is Rs. 900 per meter. The existing meter cost is Rs.645 per meter thus net grant stands reduced to Rs. 250 per meter. PSPCL will be shelling out about Rs. 10000 per meter including service charges.

At present the billing efficiency of PSPCL is 98.2 per cent and installation of smart meters at huge cost may not increase billing efficiency by 0.5 per cent.

The only advantage of installing smart meters is real-time data availability of metering parameters, and remote complete disconnection of consumer supply at a cost almost 10 times the cost of ordinary digital electronic meters cannot be justified. Further any meter damage, theft of meters or theft of electricity will be the responsibility of PSPCL.

V K Gupta, a spokesperson of All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) said that the purpose of installing smart meters should be to help PSPCL or its consumers , but here all the benefits will be given to service providers. The revenue collection should be done by PSPCL and not by service provider. PSPCL should also look into the possibility of convenience between service provider and consumer .Lastly is there any benefit of installing smart meters when power is to be given free.

Have something to say? Post your comment