In order to rule out connivance of the outsourced staff with erring consumers, the Central Power Distribution Company (APCPDCL) has partly automated its meter-reading technology, by introducing electricity meters with infrared ports.
The meters are equipped with infrared ports which will transfer data to the hand-held device from the distance of one metre.
Already, the company has begun distribution of these meters in its Metro and Ranga Reddy zones.
However, as of now, only meters detected with faults are being replaced with infrared meters, while the functional meters are being allowed to stay.
The company has outsourced its bill collection to private companies, the agents of which are some times found to be colluding with consumers and taking lower readings of the meter.
This gap in metered units and actual units is resulting in huge loss of revenue for the company.
As a remedial measure, the company has been toying with the idea of introducing smart meters for quite a while. It has already introduced radio frequency meters and pre-paid meters as part of pilot projects in select areas of the city.
Infrared meters, costing hardly anything more than the existing ones, have been introduced meanwhile, as a stop-gap arrangement.
“It works the same way as a television remote. Both the meter and the hand-held device will be fitted with infrared ports, and the consumption gets automatically transferred to the device from one metre’s distance, without manual intervention,” an official from the CPDCL explained.
Each device will be fed with certain set of service numbers and meter codes. While all the hand-held devices are now fitted with infrared ports, not every meter has them.
So, wherever the port is not available in the meter, or the meter is not accessible for the device, the reading can be taken manually, he informed.
The data recorded in the device will be dumped in the server at the end of the day, making the meter-reading staff answerable for every reading that is manually taken despite the existence of infrared port, he said.