Arup Ghosh, COO of NDPL, joined the utility in 2005, bringing with him almost three decades of utility experience. He began his career in the electrical manufacturing industry, then joined CESC Ltd (Calcutta Electric Supply Co. Ltd), in which he advanced over the years from graduate engineer trainee to deputy general manager, before moving in 2002 to the Central Electricity Board in Mauritius. As COO of NDPL Ghosh’s responsibilities include technical engineering projects, network operations, materials management and commercial management including customer care.
Ghosh is also responsible for supporting the CEO in tackling the daunting challenge of turning around a state-owned loss making utility and making it a commercially viable independent entity. He comments that there are three major challenges within NDPL – high aggregated technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, billing inefficiencies and power supply reliability issues.
Ghosh explains that NDPL prefers the term “AT&C” as opposed to the commonly used “T&D”, as it includes all losses, both in transmission as well as in areas such as billing and collection. When Ghosh started with NDPL in 2002, the company had AT&C losses over 53 percent, but by the end of 2006 the company had managed to decrease this amount to only 24 percent and plans to further reduce the number to 17 percent within the next 4 years.
According to Ghosh, NDPL faces a lot of challenges with the accuracy of data, especially with billing data. This includes the actual consumer data and how this corresponds with the correct tariff model, accuracy in terms of meter reading, problems with faulty meters, and finally that the meter is not related to the consumer.
In order to improve billing inefficiency, NDPL developed the “provisional bill” for 60 percent of its customers, which bases billing on past consumption data. This has led to 98 percent correct billing data.
Ghosh says that power supply reliability is measured with the SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index) and SAIFI (System Average Interruption Frequency Index) indices and there have been improvements in both by a factor of ten times since 2002. However, he admits that the current situation is still ten times worse than the best utility in the world. NDPL is now planning to improve its network through automation and better maintenance.