Smart metre installation at snail’s pace in Ludhiana - Hindustan Times
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Smart metre installation at snail’s pace in Ludhiana

ByRakshit Sharma, Ludhiana
Feb 09, 2024 06:06 AM IST

PSPCL has been on the job for over two years, but data provided by the powercom revealed that only 12% of the connections in Ludhiana have been covered so far

The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited’s (PSPCL) mission to replace conventional metres with smart metres is moving at a snail’s pace due to doubts raised by the public and the powercom’s overburdened staff.

There are 579,567 connections in the Ludhiana city, and only 72,425 metres have been installed so far. (HT)
There are 579,567 connections in the Ludhiana city, and only 72,425 metres have been installed so far. (HT)

PSPCL has been on the job for over two years, but data provided by the powercom revealed that only 12% of the connections in Ludhiana have been covered so far. There are 579,567 connections in the Ludhiana city, and only 72,425 metres have been installed so far.

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While a few reasons are slowing down the operation, according to chief engineer of Ludhiana Zone, Inderpal Singh Saini, the opposition from kisan unions was the biggest roadblock. “They first complained that the metres were prepaid and alleged that PSPCL may cut their power after paying. While there is a pre-paid feature, we assured them that for the next five years, this won’t be applied,” said Saini.

He added, “They then started saying that the metres would run faster than the conventional ones. To alleviate this apprehension, we installed a few smart metres next to old metres and showed them there wasn’t any major difference in the reading.”

However, he claimed that after their concerns on fair play were allayed, the unions were now alleging that the PSPCL’s move would throw the employees who note the readings out of their jobs, if they replace conventional metres with smart metres.

“It seems no matter how much we do to address their apprehensions, they just come up with a new one,” he lamented.

Stating other reasons for the slow installation of the smart metres, Saini added, “While the kisan unions were the biggest factor affecting the installation of smart metres, another problem was that the workforce at the PSPCL’s disposal was already preoccupied.”

What makes the smart metre ‘smart’?

According to CE Saini, there are essentially two things that separate the smart metre from the conventional one: mobile monitoring, and no human intervention.

The new metres can be accessed through smartphones, which can help the consumer to monitor their consumption pattern and change it accordingly.

PSPCL officials said that this would be very useful for the consumers who wanted to ensure their readings don’t cross the subsidised quota of 300 units every month. There is no scope for human intervention while billing the readings and the same can be accessed by the department without having to send out readers. This, SE Saini said, will address the common concern of the consumers that their bills were not fair.

Another important feature of these metres is that whenever any of these units will be manipulated from the user’s end, they can be traced in the PSCPL’s offices.

Saini said that these metres sent real-time data, which when accessed, will show inconsistencies in the readings, if any.

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