The Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Limited (UGVCL), a second largest state discom in Gujarat serving almost 2.9 million customers, has its network spread across an area of 49,950 Sq. Km. It was the rated the second best state power distribution utility, by the Ministry of Power (MoP), with due recognition to its excellent performance in the financial front, and ensuing operational improvement and consumer-friendly practices.
The discom is forefront in taking effective steps to improve operational efficiency and provide better services to customers. Some of the steps taken have been the introduction of system strengthening schemes, expansion of metering coverage, installation of special design transformers that help in peak load management, an insurance policy to compensate for crops destroyed by fire due to electrical line faults and launch of a photo billing system.
Through these, the utility has been trying to control its rising aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses but also help in peak load management through the installation of advanced metering infrastructure.A brief outline on different types of steps taken by the discom are mentioned below:
The utility’s AT&C losses have been increasing since 2010-11, when these stood at 6.63%. The losses touched 10.12% in 2011-12 and 14.07% in 2012-13; with increase in losses being attributed to low metering coverage of agricultural consumers, which only accounts for 36.75% in 2012-13, as compared to 28% in 2008-09, out of the total 100% metering provided. To address this issue, the utility
- Releasing all new agricultural connections at metered tariffs. In 2013-14, it released 22,278 new agricultural connections and additional load of 201 MW for existing agricultural connections, by installing 3000 km of HIgh Tension (HT) lines, and 55 agricultural feeders, following bifurcation of existing agricultural feeders
- Launched a state sponsored scheme viz., Jyotigram Yojana, introduced in 2006, which ensures 24×7 three phase quality power, the utility supplies electricity to scattered farm-houses, through feeders with specially designed Jyotigram transformers
- Installs AB conductor cables in theft prone areas, undertaking mass anti-theft drives and replacement of electromechanical meters with static meters to bring losses below 20% for feeders with higher losses
- Ensures timely and accurate billing in order to reduce losses by initiating photo billing system for 0.2 million consumers, sending billing information to consumers by SMS, and installation of radio frequency (RF)-based single phase meters to avoid human intervention in meter reading
- Ensures energy conservation, cost efficiency and reduction in distribution transformer losses, the utility has introduced special design transformers – pilot advanced transformers (PATs) which provides single-phase power supply to farmers after the eighth hour; and this concept won the utility the ‘India Utility Knowledge and Networking Forum (IUKAN) 2014 – Best Practice Award‘ under the “Innovations and Others” category.
Smart Grid Pilot
UGVCL is one of the utility short listed for smart grid initiative under MoP. The project is being undertaken in two districts – Naroda and Deesa. The Rs. 487.8 million pilot project will cover about 375 substations across these districts. The scope of the project covers AT&C loss reduction, peak load management, developing advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), optimisation of unscheduled interchange charge, reduction in meter reading cost, outage management, load forecasting, demand side management and demand response, introduction of asset management systems and power quality management.
Five consortiums were shortlisted for proof of concept (PoC) in March 2014 for demonstrating their AMI connectivity solutions with 300 meters each. On basis of evaluation of PoC and bid price, the contract for the project will be awarded in September 2014. Few challenges faced by UGVCL at tendering stage includes interoperability issues, limited expertise of Indian companies, and absence of mechanisms to test imported technologies in India.
In a nutshell, the utility’s future plans are aimed at strengthening and upgrading its grid infrastructure through various initiatives like adding distribution lines at 11kV and LT levels, including the smart grid pilot. Loss reduction measures and ensuring consumer satisfaction through quality power supply are its top priorities, going forward.
Please note: Above is the summary of the article on Power Distribution Franchisee model published in PowerLine magazine, April 2014.