Updated: July 22, 2021 10:28:57 am
In a significant step, the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL), has decided to introduce smart meters on an experimental basis for domestic consumers.
The move comes after directions were given by Energy Minister Nitin Raut. “We will soon install smart meters in the homes of domestic consumers in major cities like Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur and Aurangbad. This will be done on an experimental basis. If the experiment is successful, the smart meter system will be implemented across the state,” Bharat Pawar, spokesperon for the Energy Ministry, told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
Explaining how the smart meter concept will help consumers, Pawar said, “With smart meters, a system similar to the prepaid/postpaid system used for cellphones will take effect. Consumers can recharge their meters using the MSEDCL app. They will be able to control their consumption of electricity…”
The meters currently in use sometimes develop faults, which leads to consumers facing overbilling or underbilling, which also results in loss to the state undertaking, Pawar said. “But in smart meters, these problems are weeded out. This is because consumers are billed only for the units consumed,” he added.
MSEDCL officials said the move could be a gamechanger as power thefts and associated losses will be brought down. “The biggest gain will be in terms of arrears, which are pending in crores with all categories of consumers. The consumers will not have to pay the bills but can recharge their meters as per their requirement. They will get what they want and we won’t have huge arrears pending, which is what is happening currently,” Pawar said.
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The MSEDCL earns Rs 4,500 crore every month from power bills and other revenue sources. “But we are hardly left with any profit as we have to pay salaries of staff, purchase power from companies, look after the maintenance aspects and carry out other necessary tasks. Our biggest defaulters are farmers, many of whom have not paid for years despite hefty concessions given to them,” an official said.
Pawar said no policy decision has been taken whether to make smart meters optional or compuslory.
“First, the tenders will be floated. Then new consumers will be urged to install smart meters and then we will verify the results. Only if the trial run is successful will we take a policy decision. As of now, we also face the problem of availablity of stock of 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,” he said.
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