Fresh bids invited for ‘prepaid’ smart meters; KFON may not figure in plan

The Power Finance Corporation turns down KSEB proposal to use the KFON for smart meter project, says it ‘‘may lead to conflict in enforcing the service-level agreements.’‘

April 08, 2023 08:16 pm | Updated 08:16 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The Kerala Fiber Optic Network (KFON) will not figure in the plans to install ‘prepaid’ smart meters in the state’s power sector.

The Power Finance Corporation (PFC) did not accept a Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) proposal to use the KFON communication network for the smart meter project planned under the centrally-aided Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS).

The KSEB has invited fresh bids, with April 29 as the deadline, for procuring the meters as per the Standard Bidding Document published by the Union Ministry of Power.

In the first phase, 37 lakh consumers in 14 electrical divisions, consumers in government and high-tension (HT) categories and the KSEB’s own systems will be equipped with smart meters.

On the proposal to use KFON, the PFC apparently observed that, “Although the usage of KFON is appreciated, however, the progress of KFON is not known and service-level agreements (SLA) between the KFON, the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Service Provider (AMISP) and KSEB is not clear,’‘ the KSEB order inviting fresh bids noted. PFC further noted that the clause is ‘‘restrictive’‘ in nature and may lead to increase in cost. The selection of technology is the choice of the AMISP. The proposal cannot be accepted as it ‘‘may lead to conflict in enforcing the SLAs.’‘

At the moment, it is not clear whether  KFON would be utilised for the project in its subsequent phases.

Smart meters will be installed for all electricity consumers in a phased manner on Design, Build, Fund, Own, Operate and Transfer (DBFOOT) basis on TOTEX (Capital Expenditure + Operational Expenditure) mode. A three-member committee tasked to examine options had endorsed the TOTEX model in March.

Phase I is expected to cost ₹ 2,400 crore. The overall cost of the project is pegged at ₹ 8174.96 crore.

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