Energy Efficiency Services Limited is going to set much stricter protocols to prevent sabotage of their smart meters in the future. The need for this was necessitated after an attempt was made by someone to illicitly disconnect all 12.3 lakh smart meters operational in Uttar Pradesh.
“At around 3:30 PM (on Wednesday), a command was given by someone to disconnect all 12.3 lakh smart meters in Uttar Pradesh. The EESL team came to know of it at around 4:30 PM, and we stopped the shutdown process. By that time, almost 1.5 lakh homes/connections were disconnected,” a top EESL official told BusinessLine .
A sabotage of this magnitude has never happened before in India, and now steps have been taken to prevent it from happening again.
“This is a pure case of sabotage. It is not a hacking, but it is an insider of EESL’s vendor - L&T - tasked with manning the Head-End System (a server where the data is processed). It is a blatant breach of protocol because L&T has been told that disconnections (if they need to) happen in batches of 50 with prior approvals of the power distribution companies (Discoms). As per the contract, L&T is the System Integrator,” the official said.
Under the new protocols set by EESL, those manning the Head-End System (HES) cannot disconnect or reconnect from there. “If there is a big necessity, then that approval has to be given at a very high level in EESL, even for a single disconnection!” the official said.
“There is nothing wrong with the meters. The data comes from the meters to the HES, and then it goes to the Meter Data Management System (MDMS). This MDMS is controlled by the Discoms, and any disconnections or reconnections happen from there, as per protocol,” the official added.
But there was a breach of protocol on Thursday when the alleged sabotage took place and disconnected these smart meters deployed across Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Meerut, Gorakhpur, Ghaziabad, and Noida. Smart meters presently service only a small fraction of UP’s electricity consumers.
“We are also coming to know that there were multiple user ids created with no authorisation. A high-level EESL team is reaching on Friday morning to investigate the matter, and a formal police complaint will also be lodged,” the official said.
The EESL team was trying to reconnect all these homes from around 5:00 PM to midnight on Wednesday. The connections have been restored almost all homes except maybe some 200-300 cases where manual reconnection is happening.