Raj Malik, Chief Delivery Officer - HCL Infotech Ltd, (a wholly-owned subsidiary of HCL Infosystems Ltd).
IT has brought about tectonic shifts in the power sector and transformed distribution companies in the country. The benefits that IT brings are all pervasive change - improved operational efficiency, sustained cost reductions, enhanced consumer experience and so on.
The Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP), launched by the Ministry of Power, Government of India in July 2008, to strengthen electricity distribution in the country, has proved to be a turning point for India´s power sector.
The focus of R-APDRP has been on establishment of base line data, fixation of accountability, reduction of AT&C losses etc., by strengthening and upgradation of the sub transmission, distribution network through adoption of IT. Additionally, utilities were given the target to reduce their AT&C losses to 15 per cent in the next five years through continuous improvement.
HCL Infotech was awarded the R-APDRP technology contract for the three discoms of Rajasthan - Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer - in 2009. These programs are currently being executed across the country in 20 locations.
With its four decades of System Integration (SI) experience and deep expertise of IT infrastructure implementation, HCL was entrusted with:
Establishing an IT system to improve customer relations and satisfaction through continuous interaction.
Enabling discoms to improve AT&C losses by providing AT&C reports up to DT level.
Improving financial viability of state power utilities by improving the administrative decision making through various operational reports.
Increasing reliability and quality of power supply by providing measurable reports (like industry standard SAIDI & SAIFI) through AMR.
Enhancing efficiency of metering, billing and collections through AMR and various validations.
When HCL set up upon the process of digitalising the state´s power distribution system, the main challenge was the lack of standardisation in multiple operational divisions, since it involved three discoms and 35 circles.
Inadequate cohesion in policies, rules and business logic in the system and project governance among the three discoms proved to be a challenge in the endeavour to bring in a standardised process in the state. Further, it was getting difficult to introduce globally accepted best practices. Solutions Deployed
HCL decided to tackle these challenges by educating the discoms´ IT teams on the need and importance of business process re-engineering to leverage an IT system. This made it easier for the discoms to adopt and adapt with the complex architectural changes aimed through the digitalisation process.
After a diligent study of the existing IT architecture, HCL Infosystems deployed the following solutions:
- AMR Solutions, to enable automatic collection of consumption, diagnostic and status data from energy metering devices and transferring that data to a central database for billing, troubleshooting, and analysing.
- By reducing the scope of human intervention, AMR ensures correct and efficient billing for customers. HCL is providing solutions for more than 40,000 energy meters apart from substation monitoring solutions. Secure Intranet - A secure intranet connecting more than 400 sites of the discoms allows only authorised users to access the centralised data centre.
- Modems for hi-end consumers - Modems were installed at high-end consumer locations to receive energy consumption information on an hourly basis. This eliminates the possibility of any diversion or fraud.
- Centralised Software Application to Managing Multiple MDAS - A centralised software application integrated with multiple Meter Data Acquisition system (MDAS) that communicates with all other software modules such as billing, energy audit etc., was developed, equipped with some future-ready features.
These measures have improved the operational efficiency of the state discoms as well as brought down the AT&C losses by notable magnitude (the exact quantification cannot be available now since HCL´s project has not been concluded yet).
It is heartening to note that Piyush Goyal, Minister for Power, recently announced that the Rajasthan discoms, which were the highest loss-making in all of India, could be the first to turn around a profit in 2017. Such is the power of digitalisation!
The benefits of digitalisation have percolated to the state´s 1.32 crore electricity consumers, providing them with correct billing and metering services, online transactional facilities and timely resolution of complaints. The RAPDRP project in Rajasthan has become the largest post-paid systems implemented by a private company in India, generating 10 million bills per month.
Customers can register themselves at the discoms´ web site to download and pay bills online, check payment history, receive complaint IDs through SMS and can track the status of their complaint till it is satisfactorily closed.
Installation of modems at high-end consumer locations enables data analysis and almost eliminates the possibility of any diversion or fraud. State-of-the-art tools and relevant information for reducing AT&C losses are being used by discoms to reduce the overall burden on tax payer´s money.
In Store Ahead
Going forward, the discoms are planning to implement more customer friendly initiatives such as providing online status of customer applications. This will enable proper monitoring, promotion of a SLA driven culture, simpler processes and better connectivity for customers. Lastly, it greatly reduces transactional hassles for consumers and reduces corruption by implementing a culture of transparency.