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Interview: Powering with reforms

Devendra Singh

Devendra Singh
Joint Secretary, Ministry of Power, Government of India

The Union Ministry of Power (MoP) has incorporated the use of GIS as a policy initia- tive in National Electricity Policy 2005 and Integrated Energy Policy (IEP). What has been the driving force for this?
Geospatial technologies are very relevant in distribution and other areas of power sector. In the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (RAPDRP) programme, a major initiative of the Government of India, reduction of aggregate technical and commercial losses in the distribution sector is a priority. One of the important components we are targeting at is the proper energy auditing and accounting and the extensive use of information technology for this purpose. As part of this, it is important to be able to do consumer indexing. If you can map right up to the transformer and down to the last consumer, you can find out exactly how many customers are connected to each transformer and if there are any pilferages and power theft .Similarly, mapping can be done for all the assets in the distribution network. Regular maintenance of these systems would be possible if you deploy geospatial technologies. In generation sector, geospatial data could be used for locating ideal sites for hydro power generation. Hydro power has tremendous potential in the country – to a tune of 1,50,000 MW and with 60% PLF, we can harvest close to 90,000 MW. If mapping of assets is done, whether it is transmission or distribution, it is easy to locate a fault, to attend to a fault or to operate the lines. This can also be used to plan the location and direction of new lines based on the new generation projects that are being built.

This spatial data is quite useful in managing and operating the assets, energy auditing and also for the planning purposes.

Apart from the RAPDRP project, what are the other projects where geospatial technologies are being used?
At the moment, geospatial technologies are majorly being used in RAPDRP project. This apart, we are trying to integrate these technologies in our implementation processes by doing a capacity building exercise in utilities. As a part of the training exercise, we are trying to provide knowledge and inputs of geospatial technologies to our staff. We would also create a pool of manpower so that we can effectively use these technologies. In general, if spatial data is available, it becomes easier to carry out a planning exercise in an effective manner. For instance, we are doing a mega project Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidutikaran Yojana. We intend to electrify all the villages in the country under this project. In the second phase, we will cover all the hamlets and remotest places as well. Though we are not using geospatial technologies for this project right now, but if we have a spatial map available probably the estimation becomes easier, the preparation of DPRs becomes easier and if we can locate remote areas appropriately on the map, we will be able to position for them in our planning exercise. All this requires spatial data of high resolution.

At what level are geospatial technologies being proposed to be used under RAPDRP? Will it be used as a mapping tool or will it be integrated into other information sys- tems?
Geospatial technologies will be integrated with other IT systems. We will start with the consumer indexing of HT consumers. Then we would like to map all the LT consumers as well. Once the LT consumers are mapped, and since there is elaborate use of information technology in energy auditing, obviously you have data pertaining to every consumer, and every consumer index to every transformer etc. The basic limit of energy accounting is the feeder and then the transformer. If we are able to track the energy flow in the feeder-totransformer and then from transformer-to-consumer, it is easier to understand how energy is flowing in to the system and whom to account for it.

India has a long way to go before it meets its energy demand. What are the initiatives of the Ministry of Power to meet this demand and achieve energy security? What in your view is the role of geospatial technologies in achieving energy efficiency?
Geospatial technologies play a facilitating role. They can help in improving the productivity and efficiency. With respect to energy deficit, you need to move both the sides. One is the capacity addition in terms of more generation, improve the plant load factor of existing plants, run efficient plants, improve the efficiency by taking up renovation, modernisation etc. All this is on generation side. On the demand side management, it has been estimated in the Integrated Energy Policy that more than 15% of energy can be saved from demand side management. The Ministry of Power and Bureau of Energy Efficiency is implementing a number of schemes by which it is estimated that by 11th Five Year Plan, about 10,000 MW of power will be made available through use of demand side management measures.

As per the latest findings the verified energy savings, as part of National Productivity Council verification, more than 2100 MW capacity has already been exceeded. This is one area we are trying to manage the demand by efficient use of energy. Be it in the industrial efficiency in small/medium sector, agricultural sector or building sector – a number of initiatives were taken. So, when we manage the demand and use energy efficiently, it helps in bridging the deficit between supply and demand.

What is MoP’s approach towards public private partnership in RAPDRP?
In RAPDRP, the money which is provided for loss reduction is being channelised through the utilities. There are two parts of the RAPDRP – Part A and Part B.

Part A is the use of IT application which is Rs 10,000 crore roughly that is entirely funded by the Government of India on 100 percent ground basis. Initially it is a loan delivery initiative and after they satisfactorily complete the implementation, the loan is returned.

So that process of IT application is obviously done through public private partnership in the sense that the system integrators of the IT implementing agencies for these panels are already being prepared, there will be a competitive biddings or limited biddings on the panel by the utilities. One of the appropriate agencies will be selected and they will actually implement the programme in the respective utilities as per the guidelines provided. So to that extent there is an element of public private partnership.