Updated: July 21, 2021 5:16:56 pm
In a significant step, the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) decided to introduce smart meters on an experimental basis for domestic consumers. The smart meters, MSEDCL said will benefit the state undertaking as the consumers.
The move follows directions for Energy Minister Nitin Raut. “We will soon be installing smart meters at homes of domestic consumers in major cities like Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur and Aurangbad. This will be done on an experimental basis to find out the results. After the experiment is successful, the smart meter system will be implemented across the state,” Bharat Pawar, spokesperson of the energy department told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
Explaining how smart meters will help consumers, Pawar said, “Along with smart meters, prepaid or postpaid system just like for cellphones will take effect. Consumers can recharge their meters through the MSEDCL app. They will be able to control their consumption of electricity which will help them bring their bills down.”
Pawar said if meters, which are currently in use, develop faults, consumers face the problem of overbilling and at times they are underbilled, which results in losses to the state undertaking. “In smart meters, these problems are weeded out. This is because consumers are billed only for the units consumed,” he said.
Officials said for MSEDCL, it could be sort of a game changer as power thefts and thereby losses will come down. “The biggest gain will be in terms for arrears which are pending in crores with all categories of consumers. The consumers will not have to pay bills but can recharge their meters as per their requirement. They will get as much as they want and we won’t have huge arrears pending which is what is happening currently,” Pawar said.
MSEDCL earns Rs 4,500 crore every month from power bills and other revenue sources. “However, we hardly are left with any profit as we have to pay salaries of staff, purchase power from companies, look after the maintenance and carry out other necessary tasks. Our biggest defaulters are the farmers, many of whom have not paid for years despite hefty concessions given to them,” official said.
Pawar said no policy decision has been taken whether to make smart meters optional or compulsory. “First the tenders will be floated. Then new consumers will be urged to instal smart meters and then we will verify the results. Only if the trial run is successful, we will take a policy decision. As of now, we also face the problem of availability of stock of the smart meters as very few companies are involved in making them. We are encouraged by the fact that the smart meter system is being implemented in several countries of the world,” he said.
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