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New Discom Auditing Standards Will Reduce T&D Losses

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You can’t handle what you can’t measure, says a cliché but wise business adage. The latest regulations from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) have the potential to ensure better measurement and monitoring of transmission and distribution losses (T&D) of electricity distribution companies (Discoms).

A number of recent policies and programs have focused on reducing the overall technical and commercial (AT&C) losses of Discoms, of which T&D losses form an important part. However, despite guidance from the Central Electricity Authority, different Discoms use different methods to calculate AT&C losses without necessarily stating the underlying assumptions and data.

This difference can be as much as four percentage points (the average reported AT&C losses are around 22-25%), making it difficult to measure and track AT&C losses. BEE’s new energy audit regulations may change this situation.

Last year, BEE notified all Discoms as “designated consumers” under the Energy Conservation Act 2001, requiring them to perform periodic energy audits and take energy conservation measures. ‘energy. Recently, BEE notified regulations that prescribe how Discoms should perform audits and provide relevant data.

First, the Discoms are required to submit quarterly energy accounting reports and annually audited energy report to BEE in prescribed formats. This includes data on energy input and consumption at each voltage level by all users, including Discom consumers, open access and captive users, as well as distribution franchises. This allows a better estimation of T&D losses based on the actual energy managed by the system.

Disaggregated energy data at the power supplies and distribution transformers (DTs) must also be submitted. This data can be useful in identifying areas of significant loss. It can also help expose any bad Discom practice of covering up T&D losses by misreporting unmetered consumption.

Second, the regulations stipulate clear deadlines for Discoms to upgrade their metering infrastructure at the power, DT and consumer levels. For example, all departures must have functional smart meters by December 2022 while all TDs should be measured by December 2025. Discoms are required to provide the status of the metering infrastructure in annual reports energy audit.

In addition, the Discoms are also required to submit the part of the declared energy data that has been recorded manually. This can keep track of the installed but non-functional communicating metering infrastructure. This is all the more important since the status of the meters for consumers and the distribution infrastructure is not always reported systematically anywhere. This mandate for regular reporting can put pressure on Discoms to ensure a complete count and also provides the necessary information regarding the accuracy of audit reports.

Third, the regulations also prescribe certain processes to ensure compliance. It obliges Discoms to create a centralized energy accounting and audit unit with sufficiently qualified staff. They are also required to submit the audited annual report to BEE and the state-designated agency and publish it on their website within four months.

These regulations tick all the right boxes to guarantee a detailed and precise energy audit by the Discoms. However, having the right regulations in place is only half the job. They must be implemented effectively.

Efficient implementation

The first key requirement for an effective implementation is to ensure the upgrade and regular maintenance of metering systems through appropriate investments. For this, the Discoms can benefit from funds within the framework of the program of reform of the distribution recently launched. Reporting of status under these regulations is essential to hold Discoms accountable for progress.

Second, failure to comply with the provision of these regulations may result in a penalty of 10 lakh with 10,000 per additional day of non-compliance under the Energy Conservation Act. It’s currency for Discoms whose annual income runs into the thousands of crore. This sanction should be revised to have a serious deterrent effect.

Additionally, BEE has traditionally been an organization with limited resources and clout and, therefore, limited ability to track and deter non-compliance. The Ministry of Energy (the supervising ministry of BEE) should strengthen BEE by allocating more resources. BEE should have regional offices and more staff to coordinate with agencies designated by the state to monitor compliance with its regulations.

Finally, the National Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) can play a key role in the effective implementation of the regulation. Many SERCs already require Discoms to submit energy accounting data in their rate petitions. They can mandate Discoms to submit data in formats required by BEE regulations and monitor compliance.

These regulations have the potential to make progress in addressing the electricity sector’s long-standing problem of T & D’s high losses. But to make it a success, concerted efforts by all stakeholders are needed. Otherwise, it will be a missed opportunity.

The writers are with Prayas (Energy Group)


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