Smart meters imperative to buy power, get central grants: Principal Secretary PDD

‘Money flow directly linked to reforms under GOI guidelines’ ‘Govt has to pay in advance to purchase power under LPS Rules’ ‘UT Govt facing unsustainable Rs 31000 crore liability’
A PDD worker installs a smart meter. [Representational Image]
A PDD worker installs a smart meter. [Representational Image]Twitter/ @KPDCLOfficial

Jammu: Principal Secretary Power Development Department (PDD) H Rajesh Prasad Thursday stated that smart meters were imperative to purchase power; to get central grants under Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) and PMDP as “money flow was directly linked to reforms.”

He said that this was the definite trajectory being followed across the country, as per guidelines of Government of India to be followed by all states and Union Territories.

Principal Secretary PDD pointed out that the UT government had a liability of Rs 31000 Cr, which was on account of a loan, it took to buy power. “This liability of Rs 31000 Cr is totally unsustainable. It all happened due to gigantic AT&C losses (55 percent),” he said.

He stated this here in a press conference convened to detail about the norms for smart meters and also allay apprehensions about them.

With regard to power procurement, he said, “As regards the consumption in J&K is concerned, in the last financial year, which ended in March, 2023, we purchased 20,400 Million Electricity Units. We need to keep in mind that the government has to pay in advance to purchase power, under new Electricity Late Payment Surcharge and Related Matters (LPS) Rules, as per the PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) with Gencos, including central and J&K Gencos, otherwise we will face power snapping.”

Prasad said, “In case of shortage, we buy power at an exorbitant rate also. As compared to consumption (20,400 Million Units) in the last financial year, we are anticipating a 10 percent increase this year, which will be over 22,000 Million Units.”

He stated that 50-55 percent Aggregate Transmission & Commercial (AT&C) losses in J&K were the highest across the country.

“J&K still exists in the pre-reform (pre-Electricity Act 2003) stage. Besides LPS Rules, in the wake of reforms initiated by the Government of India in the sector of Transmission and Distribution to ensure re-bounce and capacity building, the money flow for modernisation of infrastructure to replace outdated infrastructure would be available only if AT&C losses are minimised. For that purpose, Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) has given a definite trajectory to all the states/UT, including J&K to minimise AT&C losses by 10-15 percent every year. Only then we will get money flow from the Centre for transformers, transmission towers, Grid Station…precisely for modernising infrastructure,” Prasad explained.

With regard to charges, he said, “The charges for agriculture are 80 paise; Rs 1.25 for BPL categories; under the second slab for above 400 units, charges are Rs 2 and the maximum charges in residential or domestic sectors are Rs 4.50 per unit. These rates are quite less as compared to other states.”

“Similarly in the industrial sector, comparatively we are charging less. Only in case of public utilities, the charges are higher for government departments and that is up to Rs 7. Overall, our rates are one of the lowest in the country,” Principal Secretary PDD said.

He informed that in J&K, Aggregate Transmission & Commercial (AT&C) losses were 58 percent in the area under KPDCL while it’s around 42 percent in Jammu.

“So out of the power, which we purchase (20,400 MW during the last Financial Year), average 55 percent goes into losses. The reason behind these losses is that we have only 50 percent consumer meters (combined) in Kashmir and Jammu divisions. It is possible that some areas may have more coverage and other areas may have less coverage but average metering is just 50 percent. In the rest of the areas without metering, consumers pay (consumption) charges on flat rates while many don’t pay at all,” he said.

Citing other reasons, he mentioned power pilferage, less efficiency in billing and collection, as compared to other states.

“It is heartening that we have installed 3.80 lakh smart meters. Please keep in mind that we have to pay to buy power at the rates approved by the regulator. Consumers will have to pay for units consumed. The government is very sensitive to the problems of people hence rates are fixed keeping in mind the affordability of vulnerable sections viz., BPL category and even industrial sector. I reiterate that our rates are one of the lowest across the country. The government has to compensate 55 percent AT&C losses through its budgetary grants,” Prasad said.

He said that the money, which could have been used for development; on social sectors, was being used to buy power because of gigantic AT&C losses.

“Thus, a conscious decision has been taken for installation of smart meters which are tested and calibrated. There is no possibility of inflated bills. In case of doubts, we are there to allay all apprehensions,” he said, adding that the UT government had a definite plan for three years to minimise its losses so as to ensure 24X7 reliable power supply at affordable rates.

“Smart meters are beneficial in many respects. Same day there will be differential rates like if you use the washing machine during peak hours, rates would be higher; otherwise charges will be lower. This will happen in a year or two. 2024 is the deadline,” he said.

Prasad said, “Post 2019, there has been massive investment in generation, distribution and transmission sectors in J&K. Our capacity in the transmission and distribution sector has increased by 50 percent in the last three and a half years.”

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