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Feature | September 2016

Fast tracking projects will trigger growth

PK Ranade | Chairman and Managing Director, Advance Metering Technology Limited.

Define the challenges being faced by manufacturers?
Initiatives are an excellent platform for pushing the envelope for the use of advanced digital technology and communication in power distribution. The current dilemma faced by manufacturers and utilities is the lack of a unified definition and specification. If we were to zero in on one product specification across utilities and states, this would give the industry a boost and help deliver a high quality products, produced with economies of scale at lower cost. The current situation where utilities in different states have varying specification and requirement for metering is counterproductive and is essentially slowing down the adoption process.

Do you see slow implementation as an opportunity missed?
Absolutely, the loss to the country - both tangible and intangible - is significant. On one hand, the industry is falling short of delivering high value, high technology products and on the other hand the country is falling short in the much needed field of energy conservation and grid optimisation that the early adoption of such initiatives and technologies would deliver. The cash loss in the energy bill of the country as a result of this slow adoption alone is significant enough that these initiatives should be put on a fast burner to encash the benefits.

What demand do you expect for meters in the next three years?
With the aggressive electrification that is taking place all over the country, we are expecting a rapid paced continued growth in the demand for energy meters for the next three-five years. The current demand is likely to increase further.

What could trigger growth momentum for the sector?
Timely payments to EPC companies involved in rural electrification and other projects by the government will be pivotal in ensuring that the growth momentum can be maintained. Cash flow and liquidity for manufacturers (due to delayed payments) will pose serious challenges to growth in this industry.

Where do we move from here in terms of technology in meters?
In terms of going forward in the best, medium to long term interest of the country it would be prudent to constitute a special central committee to prepare a metering standard specification type which can be used as a blueprint to be followed across the country. This is further required to adopt a generic meter type which utilises the same hardware to be possibly upgraded via a software upgrade to either a pre-payment protocol for remote area deployment or an online connected system for the transmitting and receiving of data and all other required actions.

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