Bengal plans to plug power theft in real time

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on January 21, 2011

To use smart-grid technology

West Bengal hopes to be the country's first State to have smart-grid technology in place to pinpoint theft of power or unauthorised consumption on a real-time basis.

According to the State Power Secretary, Mr Malay De, to supervise the entire project, to be rolled out in the State in two-three years, the West Bengal Government will appoint Singapore Power Ltd as “super consultant”.

A firm agreement in this regard will be signed in a week. The entire project is estimated to cost Rs 300-350 crore.

Pilot project

To start with, the State distribution utility — West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd — will enter into an agreement this month with a US-based technology provider to carry out a pilot project in a South Kolkata locality having nearly 50,000 subscribers consuming 45 MW of power.

Though the cost of the pilot project has not been disclosed, it is learnt that a major venture capital in the country's power sector will finance the initiative.

The technology provider will supply the equipment and run the same during the project period.

The benefits

Dubbed the largest such pilot run in the country so far, the project will implement SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) based systems enabling the utility to introduce real-time basis meter reading of every customer; remote controlled connection and disconnection of supplies for all; and pinpoint any loss of power either at the consumer level (by way of bypassing the meter) or en route to customer (by way of “hooking” as it is commonly referred to).

The biggest benefit for the customer is introduction of an “efficient load-management” system.

“Currently, we shed load based on a preset roaster with instructions passed on to nearly 3,000 distribution points over telephone.

“Many a times the gap between the real-time power supply and demand scenario leads to longer hours of load-shedding in vast areas even though the supply situation might not have required so,” Mr De said.

“In the new system — which is computer controlled — we can identify exact demand points even on a consumer level and disconnect the supply or keep shedding loads on rotation between neighbourhoods. The end result is each locality will remain without power for shorter duration,” he added.

Lower tariff

The Ministry is also planning to introduce technology whereby even domestic consumers can be offered the benefit of lower tariff during non-peak hours. Such a facility is now offered, in very crude form though, to industrial customers.

“We foresee a situation where a domestic subscriber may take connections on pre-paid basis in an effort to keep his costs limited.

“By a consumer level remote controlled system we may even regulate the consumption of each appliance he or she is using,” Mr De said.

He, however, added that such appliance level control will need a change in regulatory framework.

A recent report by PwC India pointed out the urgent need for change in regulatory framework to switchover the smart-grid technologies, both for efficient supply and demand side management.

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Published on January 10, 2011
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