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Why old meters should make way for a new generation of smart meters.

With convenience, affordability and sustainability the ruling buzzwords of our times, the power sector finds itself on the threshold of exciting new changes.

The government’s revamped distribution sector scheme has stressed the upgradation of existing infrastructure.

Indeed, as part of the nation’s larger vision of making electricity a reality for every home, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) – India’s apex power sector planning body – has prioritized converting all electricity meters into smart meters, which come in both prepaid and postpaid avatars.

CHANGE IS MESSY, BUT NECESSARY

Old is often gold in the traditional Indian household, which means the transition may meet with some resistance and inertia. That said, a slew of significant and measurable benefits should catalyze the behaviour and systemic change.

For one, new meters will release households from the tedious task of recording and submitting readings to the electricity supplier manually every month.

That’s not all. With old meters, receiving updates on how much energy one is using can be cumbersome and lead to information that can be inaccurate. Old meters also need to be positioned in a handy place for easy access, adding yet another hurdle to daily use and adoption.

NEW AGE, NEW EDGE

The story changes entirely when one introduces the new generation of smart meters into the picture.

New meters are digital devices that measure and record energy consumption. Unlike traditional electricity meters, which require manual meter reading, smart prepaid meters can communicate wirelessly with the utility company, allowing remote monitoring and management of the meter.

Smart meters undergo strict testing by both engineers at the manufacturers’ end and by government accredited labs (as per standards defined by BIS), and are deployed only after all parties are satisfied with the working of the equipment.

ADVANTAGES OF SMART PRE-PAID METERS

With human intervention minimized (and digitally quickened, thanks to breezy mobile apps over which the solution is being increasingly delivered) across key metering activities like reading, billing, payment and collection, user convenience is significantly enhanced. Real time visibility into usage status enables better decisions on current and future consumption while reducing chronic and undue stress. Stringent systems and automated controls make both overpaying and underpaying practically impossible, coming as a financial relief for both consumers and distributors. Pilferage, theft and leakage is all but eliminated.

BUILDING SMARTER ‘METER HABITS’

Advanced smart metering solutions – such as the ones developed by Radius – additionally allow for preventive and predictive action, empowering both user and provider to take back controls over their lifestyle and budgets, turning everyday ‘meter activities’ performative, and even ensuring better health and longevity of infrastructure and systems like grids and DGs.

The government’s reform-centric, result-based Power Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) is already having a tangible effect, and AT&C (Aggregate Technical and Commercial losses) figures are down.

Governments worldwide are migrating to smart meter systems. India has set the most ambitious target globally : 250 million smart meters by 2026.

According to EESL (Energy Efficiency Services Limited), a joint venture of four National Public Sector Enterprises – NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation Limited), PFC (Power Finance Corporation Limited), REC (Rural Electrification Company Limited) and POWERGRID, set up under the Ministry of Power, Government of India – smart meters are helping reduce commercial losses of utilities and enhance revenues, while serving as an important tool in power sector reform.

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