The Rural Electrification Corporation is planning to install equipment that will transmit usage data from metres at each of the country’s 100,000 rural feeder stations,which will identify spots where power theft is rampant.
The biggestproblem for discoms in India, arguably, is what are called Aggregated Technical andCommercial losses (AT&C). As Aashish Chandorkar saysin this piece, “transmitted power is lost partly due totechnical reasons over the power networks, but mostly because of thefts andpeople using illegal, unpaid-for hooks to divert available power to their homesand establishments.” Some states lose as much as 50 percent of powertransmitted to AT&C losses. This Mint report claims that in India, ‘regionaldistributors lose almost 23% of the electricity they buy through theft,unmetered usage and dissipation through old wires’.
How can discoms decrease or preventAT&C losses?
If discoms knew just where the AT&C losses are occurring (and also wherethe losses are likely to happen in future) it would help them take preventivemeasures in anticipation.
The good news is that something to that effect is soon to happen in ruralIndia, as the government turns to villages to look for ‘missing’ power.
As mentioned in the aforementioned Mint report, ‘the Rural ElectrificationCorp. plans to install equipment that will transmit usage data from metres ateach of the country’s 100,000 rural feeder stations’. This data, then, will bestreamed live to the public. In fact, an entirely new smartphone app wouldserve as the platform.
As Chandorkar says , ‘Analysing previous power usage patterns, creating hypotheses and understandingthe relationship between theft (dependent variables) and events like marriages,festivals, ghettos of political clout and so on (influencing variables), can bea big boost to discoms.’
With the installation of sensors at literally thelast mile of power consumption they will now be able to identify spots wherepower leakage or theft is rampant. Since all this data will be publiclyavailable it forces the discoms (and the political authorities who hold themback) to act against theft. Next time there is a big political rally in yourvillage and the local politician chooses to steal power instead of paying forit there will be a way for you to nail him. All you may have to do is to useyour mobile phone.
This article is a part of a Digital Special Series on the Power Sector sponsored by Powergrid.