Notwithstanding the objections raised by power sector unions, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is preparing to go ahead with the roll-out of smart meters with prepayment feature on Design, Build, Fund, Own, Operate and Transfer (DBFOOT) basis in the TOTEX mode.
The KSEB has decided to go ahead with the original plan of deploying 37 lakh meters in a single package in Phase 1, scrapping a revised Phase I proposal to install 17 lakh meters. The tender floated for the latter proposal will be cancelled.
All consumers are to be equipped with prepaid smart meters in phases under the Centrally assisted Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS).
System meters of the KSEB (feeder, border and distribution transformer meters), high-tension consumers, government consumers, and consumers in 14 high-revenue electrical divisions of the KSEB will be covered in Phase I, according to a decision finalised by the full-time directors of the power utility.
The high-revenue divisions on the list are the following; Thiruvananthapuram, Kazhakkuttam, Ernakulam, Tripunithura, Aluva, Muvattupuzha, Perumbavoor, Feroke, Kozhikode, Kannur, Palakkad, Tirurangadi, Pallom, and Kasaragod.
A memorandum of understanding will be signed with REC Power Development and Consultancy Limited (RECPDCL), the project implementation agency, for implementing the first phase.
Based on a Central government decision, the KSEB had given the nod for installing the meters for all consumers in multiple phases in November 2021 and the proposal was cleared by the Distribution Reforms Committee and the Cabinet. Subsequently, the Ministry of Power had given the go-ahead for implementing the project at an estimated cost of ₹8,174.96 crore. Initially, Phase I involved deployment of 37 lakh meters, but the KSEB had opted for ‘‘a more pragmatic phasing’‘ and had toned it down to 17 lakh units. But the RDSS monitoring committee had directed KSEB to revert to the original plan.
Left power sector unions have opposed the implementation method alleging that the TOTEX (capital expenditure + operating expenditure) mode will pave the way for the entry of private players in electricity distribution. They have demanded the KSEB to directly implement smart metering, independent of the current scheme. The Electricity Employees Federation of India had staged a protest outside the KSEB headquarters at Pattom on Thursday raising the demands.