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Pilot study shows smart meters can arrest theft,help save power

Over the last six months,the discom NDPL has been experimenting with advanced technology metering by installing ‘smart meters’ in 500 households in the Civil Lines and Shalimar Bagh.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
June 1, 2009 3:23:34 am

Over the last six months,the discom NDPL has been experimenting with advanced technology metering by installing ‘smart meters’ in 500 households in the Civil Lines and Shalimar Bagh. If the results of the experiment are anything to go by,this technology can help the utilities drastically cut losses due to power theft and improve interaction with the consumer.

“A smart meter is essentially a device that communicates both with the utility and with the consumer’s equipment. It records consumption in detail and relays consumption pattern back to the utility so that the information can be used to benefit the consumer,” said senior NDPL officer Praveen Chaurghade. While regular meters monitor general consumption during the day,smart meters can mark the time in which a consumer uses more electricity. This can help regulatory bodies introduce “time of the day” pricing — higher rates during peak hours and lower during non-peak hours.

“A direct benefit will be the reduction in losses due to theft. A smart meter is split into a metering device and a display unit. The metering device is in the custody of the utility and the display unit is fixed at the consumer’s premises. This ensures that fraudulent users cannot tamper with the meter,” Chaurghade says.

“If generation is low and demand high,we have to ask consumers to conserve electricity. A customer can time his smart meter to directly switch off certain high-consumption appliances such as air conditioners,” he said.

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The NDPL has received feedback from 500 consumers. “Most are happy with the pilot project,” Chaurghade said. While the NDPL officials did not confirm the exact cost of a smart meter,they conceded it is considerably higher than the regular electric meters priced between Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000. “Whenever a technology is popularised,its price dips. If smart meters are installed on a large scale,their price can come down to the current price for regular meters,” Chaurghade said.

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