After waiting over 15 years, giving consumers the right to choose power suppliers based on tariffs and other considerations may take off as new smart meters are being installed across the country. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech stressed the need to deploy smart meters on a mission mode in the next three years for the transformation of electricity distribution companies, many of which are running huge losses due to unpaid dues besides power thefts and transmission losses.
Installation of smart meters, which are being acquired under the supervision of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), is expected to give a significant boost to the distributors’ operations, billings, and collection of dues. According to EESL, they will help forecast future energy demand cycles in real-time. This will help to swiftly rebalance the grid’s energy sources, and achieve renewable energy infusion. With smart meters, the distributors can record and anticipate fluctuations throughout the day, and explore ‘Time of Use (ToU) tariffs’ that accurately reflect energy prices.
“EESL is installing these smart meters in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” according to Animesh Mishra, head (sales and PR), EESL. The state-run organisation has so far procured 15 million meters, and installed around 1 million Pay As You Save (PAYS) gadgets across the nation.
Mishra explains that these meters will help consumers control their power bills, and rationalise their electricity consumption. In turn, the power utilities will be able to use data generated by the meters to improve their services, including potential installations in relatively remote parts of the nation.
Anil Razdan, former power secretary, explains that the switch can give people the option of choosing their vendor. “Technically, as electrons are neutral, they’ll keep flowing into the system. The meters help make it an accounting issue.”