Open Access Consumers Can Use Smart Meters As Interface Meters

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA), in a recent notification, said that in case of open access consumers connected to a distribution system, smart meters can be used as interface meters provided they comply with the recommended regulations.

Interface meters are used for accounting and billing of electricity connected at the point of interconnection between electrical systems of generating company, licensee, and consumer directly connected to the interstate transmission system (ISTS) or intrastate transmission system or a distribution system.

As per the installation and operation of meters regulations 2006, all new meters and energy accounting audit meters should be of a static type and should have an automatic remote meter reading facility. The regulations further note that all new consumer meters should be smart meters with pre-payment features. The existing meters other than smart meters should be replaced with smart meters with pre-payment features within a central government’s time frame.

The government plans to replace all existing electricity meters with smart prepaid meters starting in April 2019. The process of switching over is to be completed in three years. The program will be implemented by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL). EESL has already installed over 1.2 million smart meters in India to date under the Ministry of Power’s (MoP) Smart Meter National Program (SMNP). EESL also claimed that it enabled DISCOMs to generate a billing efficiency of 95% through the use of its smart meters during the lockdown, resulting in a 15-20% average increase in monthly revenue per consumer.

Smart meters can unlock a slew of capabilities that the utilities in India badly need – increase billing efficiency, remote billing, automatic outage reporting, flexibility with time-of-use tariffs, and add new revenue streams.

To fast track smart metering implementation and to ensure seamless operations, ₹1.5 billion (~$20.4 million) of funds are being infused for providing a common backend infrastructure facility (CBIF) to distribution companies (DISCOMs) for faster roll-out of smart meters in the country. To implement this, a joint venture is formed by NTPC Limited, the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), REC Limited, and Power Finance Corporation Limited.

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