Companies & Sectors
A prototype smart grid project holds hope for the future

After having obtained initial success in monitoring the progress made in Puducherry, Power Grid is taking the next bold step to install 87,000 smart energy meters in the city homes

Soon after the power grid collapse in July last year, the then power minister Veerappa Moily was reported to have said that India suffers from aggregate and technical losses (ATC) of 27.15% of the power generated and, if efforts were made to bring this down to even 12% (or less), the power thus saved would be as high as 15,000MW that can meet the dire needs of homes and industries.

 

A further study on this subject shows that, except for a few states that have a single digit loss of power (ATC), there some losing as much as 70% while north-eastern region records loss at 36.44% and the southern region at 19.49% of the power generated. The tragedy is that all these power losing states are those that are actually suffering for lack of power but apparently are not taking enough precautions to stop this loss.

 

ATC also covers transmission and distribution loss, which is more likely to be in the form of "stolen" power, resulting in the law abiding citizen having to pay for the same!

 

Power grid failure is also due to loss making state-owned utility Boards that simply overdraw power rather than contracting for adequate power in a planned manner. Most state utilities are loss making "concerns" which do not pay for the power drawn on time thus compounding the troubles faced by the power generators.

 

In order to improve the overall situation, the Power Grid Corporation, in collaboration with Puducherry Electricity Department established the first pilot smart grid project by installing more than 1,400 smart energy meters in various homes in Puducherry that would perform various designated functions automatically and feed the resultant information to the central computer. This IT-enabled grid system aims to cut down transmission theft and loss.

 

There are 14 such smart grid projects under way throughout the country and the experience gained so far from Puducherry has been highly useful. Also known as AMI or advanced metering infrastructure, this project at Puducherry covered possibly the most important element of the smart grid relating to metering.

 

In so far as loss of power, due to theft is concerned, there are no estimates that can be given simply because this occurs in an "invisible" manner. Most electricians are aware that they can easily hook up connection to direct supply of power from source (the main lines) at the point of contact with impunity. This is the first point of contact to get "free" stolen power that needs to be plugged!

 

After having obtained initial success in monitoring the progress made in Puducherry, Power Grid is taking the next bold step to install some 87,000 smart energy meters in Puducherry homes. No doubt, when the results are computed from the other 13 centres, appropriate steps can be taken to carry the smart energy meter project to the next national level.

 

What is of utmost importance is that we ought to ensure that there are strictly encased and pilfer-proof meters that cannot be "picked". Also, any attempt at tampering them should automatically emit signs or alert signals at the central computer that such a nefarious activity is underway, giving location details so that the culprits can be apprehended.

 

Although hot water is not required in most parts of the country, those who have installed solar water heaters do get a special discounted rate on the electricity consumed. Use of solar power that can reduce the dependence on electric power is unfortunately, out of reach for the common man, because of high investment cost of the panels. The power minister needs to direct some attention to this aspect as well, so that the power saved in this fashion could be better utilised for industrial development.

 

In the meantime, it is sad to note that nine Electricity Regulatory Commissions, including the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) do not have chairpersons to run their shows. It is time the power minister takes efforts to overcome any hurdles that may have caused this lapse, as apparently, without the top brass to run these important organisations, one cannot expect the work to go on smoothly.

 

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)

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COMMENTS

Dr Anantha K Ramdas

3 years ago

Right on, Mr Shah!

Power theft is the main reason for loss of revenue for the State Electricity Boards. If these are made into independent profit oriented companies, they will become more vigilant, do better service and ensure that this problem is reduced considerably. It can never be eliminated because of corrupt staff and our motivated unwillingness to employ fool-proof,tamper-resistant meters and connectors at the main supply point, from powerline poles to individual homes!

On the top of this, our own integrity matters most in not overlooking the power stealing by those who know how to!

Parimal Shah

3 years ago

The power theft is a nuisance that goes on with a tcit connivance of electric supply companies - everyone in an area knows about celebrations, Eid, Diwali, Marriages, Ganeshotsav etc etc and the power theft occurs openly - some of the workers in the power company also may be participating in the festivities and with knowledge. I once came across a senior worker of one such company and suggested he checks from where the power is being drawn for a function in a particular area. His answer was that I should give a written complaint. We are so much obsessed with such formalities that we ignore to notice open truth. The attitude was to brush the issue under the carpet rather then find the culprit to prevent such theft. This suits the companies because they need not bother to improve efficiency - they simply request a rate hike - and get it sooner or later. And honest citizens pay! This happens only in India!
Why can we not have vigilance squads to check power-theft during such events?

TCS Q2 net profit jumps over 50% to Rs5,607.75 crore

The Tata group company delivered impressive results, with sales increasing by 38.9% and net profit increasing by 50.2% on firm execution, currency tailwinds and volume increase. TCS shares zoomed to a 52-week high on the BSE before the result announcement

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest information technology company reported a robust net profit of over 50% during the second quarter lead by firm execution, currency tailwinds and volume increase.
 

For the quarter to end-September, the Tata group company said on a standalone basis, its net profit rose 50.2% to Rs5,607.75 crore from Rs3,733.58 crore while its total revenues, including sales, increased to Rs16,607.7 crore from Rs11,948.7 crore, same period last year.
 

Rajesh Gopinathan, chief financial officer, TCS said, “Strong volumes, currency tailwinds and firm execution helped us post industry-leading operating margins in this quarter. Our ability to manage operations with a degree of discipline has helped maintain the tempo of investments needed to sustain growth as well as provide superior shareholder returns.”
 

The positive showing by TCS is a result of strong volumes, currency depreciation and solid execution. Its second quarter volumes grew at 7.3% while operating margins stood at a healthy 30.1%, reflecting robustness and strength even in uncertain market conditions. Growth in Q2 was broad-based with all industries contributing to the good performance, and it was led by life sciences, media, energy and utilities and BFSI verticals. All core markets grew smartly with Europe, North America and UK. According to the company, there was balance growth in other services such as asset leverage solutions, assurance, enterprise solutions, engineering services and infrastructure.
 

Operating profit for the September 2013 quarter was Rs6,305 crore, a whopping growth of 51.1% over the same period last year.
 

Commenting on the Q2 performance, TCS managing director and chief executive N Chandrasekaran said, “It has been another great quarter. We have demonstrated all-round strong growth across markets and industries, highlighted by efficient and rigorous execution. Our ongoing investments in industry-led solutions and our efforts to provide insights and articulate the relevance of the digital revolution to business is helping us gain mindshare with customers and differentiate the TCS brand in the market.”
 

Some of the highlights of the quarter were:
 

# Chosen by a global financial institution for a multi-year contract to provide assurance services to certify the roll out of their applications globally
 

# Awarded a multi-million dollar engagement by a large North American pharma company to provide end-to-end managed services for its data centers worldwide.
 

# A global insurance company based in North America has selected TCS to develop a multi-platform tablet solution for their field agents
 

# A global bank based in Europe has selected TCS to build a multi-country mobile application for their personal and business clients globally
 

On Tuesday, TCS ended marginally higher at Rs2218.2 on the BSE, while the 30-share benchmark closed 60 points down at 20,547.6. Before the results announcement, TCS shares hit its 52-week high of Rs2,258.05 during the morning session.

For more information on other company results, check out this link

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SBI expects CPI inflation to inch up further

SBI in its economic research report also expects repo hike of 25 basis points and MSF downward recalibration of 25 basis points

India’s inflation based on wholesale price index-WPI edged up significantly to 6.46% in September 2013. The increase was primarily because of increase in food inflation to 18.4%, but core WPI inflation also edged up marginally, on the back of increase in prices in export intensive sectors like textiles and leather. Consumer price index (CPI) inflation too edged up to 9.84%. This was expected, as the gap between CPI food and WPI food will get corrected in the coming days, and CPI may cross 10%, says a research report from State Bank of India (SBI).

 

The WPI inflation data is summarised in the following table:
 


According to the research note, core CPI may also rise further, as WPI trends of higher textiles and leather gets rubbed into CPI numbers. It also believed that WPI inflation will also inch up and may touch 7%. WPI may decline from January 2014, as past trends show when elections do happen, food prices show a declining trend, the report says.

 

With WPI inflation in September 2013 rising and the previous release of July 2013 revised upward to 5.85%, there is now a clear case for rising repo rate by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as the distance of WPI from RBI’s comfort zone for inflation has only increased, SBI said. It expects that the WPI inflation will settle at 6.0% for FY14.

 

SBI said, “The question is in what form will the rate hike be effected - a pure hike in repo rate or a combination of change in liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) corridor and hike in repo rate. If the external sector conditions remain predictable, rupee volatility contained, then a policy prescription of latter combination is a possibility.” SBI in the research note said it expects a repo hike of 25 basis points and marginal standing facility (MSF) downward recalibration of 25 basis points.

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