Image: EESL

India’s state run Energy Efficiency Services Limited has signed agreements with the two Bihar distribution companies for a 2.34 million smart prepaid meter rollout.

The agreements with the North Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited (NBPDCL) and South Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited (SBPDCL) mark the commercial launch of smart prepaid metering in the state. The initiative also is the first of its scale in India.

The aim is to transform the state’s power distribution landscape, which is operating under high aggregate technical and commercial losses.

Previously 25,000 smart prepaid meters had been installed in Bihar, as part of a 28,000 smart meter deployment, providing an average daily recharge revenue of Rs500,000 (US$6,900).

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The smart meters can be switched remotely between postpaid and prepaid modes.

“The implementation of smart prepaid meters can play a crucial role in addressing these challenges in Bihar,” the state’s Energy Minister, Bijendra Prasad Yadav, was quoted in the local press as saying.

“I am confident that these meters will be a boon for the state’s energy landscape and will help discoms in shoring up their finances.”

The smart prepaid meters are connected through a web-based monitoring system, which is intended as an important tool in India’s power sector reform in helping to reduce the commercial losses of utilities. Their use should increase the billing and collection efficiency for the distribution companies, as well as reduce the operation and maintenance costs and enhance the quality of service.

In addition, customers are able to monitor their consumption.

Since the announcement of the initiative, India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed the scheme be effectively extended nationwide. In her budget speech, the minister allocated Rs3,059 billion (US$41.96 billion) over the next five years for power distribution sector reform with one of the components being smart prepaid metering.

India’s smart metering programme is aiming to replace 250 million conventional meters with smart meters. So far approximately 1.3 million smart meters have been installed in the programme in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, Haryana and Bihar.