Consumers with Smart Energy Meters Must be Billed on Actual Load: Minister

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Union Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy R.K. Singh has advised states to ensure that no penalty is levied on any consumer for higher load discovered after the installation of prepaid smart meters.

At a review planning and monitoring meeting with states and state power utilities this week, Singh asserted that the billing for consumers who have installed prepaid smart meters be done on an actual load basis.

Highlighting the importance of smart metering in prepaid mode, he urged the states to expedite the program’s implementation to minimize inefficiencies.

The review meeting also focused on the benefits of solarization of agricultural feeders, which provide power at a low cost during the day to agriculture consumers and reduce the subsidy burden for state governments.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) program, which was launched in 2019, India has been providing central financial support with an outlay of ₹334.2 billion (~$4.6 billion) to farmers.

The meeting also deliberated upon the progress of the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS), which was launched to enhance operational efficiency and ensure the distribution sector’s financial viability.

Singh also stressed the need to address inefficiencies in the distribution sector, especially with regard to the reduction of losses, maintaining proper subsidy accounts, and energy accounting.

The minister appreciated the efforts made by all the stakeholders in addressing aggregate technical and commercial losses, which resulted in an overall reduction of the losses by 5% in 2021-22.

The AT&C losses of distribution companies declined significantly to ~17% in 2021-22 from 22.32% in FY 2020-21, according to recent data published by the Ministry of Power.

The minister also emphasized the importance of implementing the Time of Day (ToD) tariff to ensure the flattening of load curves while ensuring that the tariff for solar hours is kept reasonable.

ToD tariff comprises separate tariffs for peak and off-peak hours to encourage a reduction in consumption during peak hours when the cost of power is very high and an increase in consumption during off-peak hours when the cost of power is relatively lower.