Smart meter project a non-starter

Tenders called for procurement of devices withdrawn twice
Last Updated 19 April 2014, 18:42 IST

The smart meter project of the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) appears to be a non-starter with the company withdrawing the tenders for procurement of meters, twice.

The Bescom had launched the project with the objective of plugging power pilferage and heralding transparency in billing. The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission had directed installation of smart meters way back in 2010.

As part of the trial run, the Bescom, in association with Bangalore-based Syscon Hefcom Private Limited (SHPL) a private firm which manufactures these meters, had installed about 100 devices at an apartment complex in Girinagar.

The meters generates data every 15 minutes and the trial run proved to be a success.
“Considering this success, the Bescom floated tenders to procure 2.5 lakh smart meters on September 7, 2012 for Malleswaram.

However, the proposal was dropped for reasons best known to the authorities concerned,” a source in the power sector told Deccan Herald. The ernest money deposit (EMD) for the tenders was returned, the source added.

Karnataka would have been the first state in the country to go for smart meters if the Bescom had went ahead with the proposal, according to the source.

“The loss for Bescom is a gain for neighbouring State, Tamil Nadu. Over 2,000 meters will be installed at Neyveli. Another 30 meters will be installed in Salem,” said S Kasturi Rangan, Managing Director, SHPL.

On the other hand, the Southwestern Railways too has evinced interest in smart meters.
“Last year, we had installed them at the City railway station. The Railways wanted a technology to help them plug the revenue leakage. They were paying more to the power companies than they collected from their tenants- the commercial establishments on the platforms,” said Rangan.

When contacted, Pankaj Kumar Pandey, Managing Director, Bescom, said that the tenders for smart meters will be floated after the model code of conduct is vacated.

For consumers

Consumers can know the power consumption and the bill amount
Consumers can keep track of off-peak hour consumption and avail rebate as per
KERC directions
No room for faulty billing
It could be used as a two-way meter - for monitoring solar power supplied to grid

For Utilities

Effective management of available load and consumption; obliterates load-shedding
Can manage consumption as per demand
Strike a balance between consumption and generation
Tampers can be detected instantly.
Can initiate disconnection drive remotely in case of failure to pay the bills

(Published 19 April 2014, 18:39 IST)

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