After a prolonged phase of teething troubles followed by implementing agency Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd pulling out of the pilot Smart Grid project in Puducherry, the project appears to have revived with the Puducherry Government finalising Chinese major Dong Fong through global tenders for the project.
The company will be implementing the project on Investor Model and the installation of smart meters is expected to commence from 2016. The total cost of the project is Rs.46.1 crore and the Central Government will fund 50 per cent of the project cost. The project will initially cover 34,000 services in the Boulevard region and will be subsequently extended to remaining parts of the city in phases, it is learnt.
The Smart Grid Project evolved by the Power Ministry’s India Smart Grid Task force was initially rolled out to cover 87,000 services in the urban divisions of the city. While the Centre agreed to fund 50 per cent of the project the remaining amount was planned to be shared by the Utility (Puducherry Government). The project is expected to go on stream in 2017.
Power Grid Corporation of India was the nodal agency under the National Smart Grid Mission volunteered to fund the utility portion and around 1,600 smart meters were installed in Saram region. However, the pilot project ran into trouble and failed to take off as the Power Grid did not get support from collaborators due to various reasons.
As many as 14 pilot projects launched in various States also hit a roadblock due to uncertainty in markets and indecision on how to take it forward. The Power Grid Corporation expressed its inability to the Puducherry Government in 2013 to take up the project citing financial and technology constraints.
However, the Department of Electricity pursued it and decided to implement the project under Investors Model. Chinese major Dong Fong which has presence in Singapore and South Korea was selected among the bidders. Dong Fong will be showcasing their model and funding 50 per cent of the project cost. The revenue model envisages cost benefit to the company over a five year period. The smart meters will also be equipped with Radio Frequency and would not entail any expense for the consumer.
The installation of the advanced meters would help consumers monitor real-time power consumption data and at any point of time know the exact billing amount. Since consumers could know the billing on a real time basis, they could appropriately manage power usage.
As far as the department was concerned, they would be able to monitor online energy usage patterns and detect malpractices, energy theft and thus enabling them to connect or disconnect supply online. This would help the department save power. Besides, the advance metering system would help the department to bill power tariff online and collection of dues online.