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R-APDRP – Empowering with reforms

Anand Kashyap
GIS Development
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Power is the backbone for development and more so for a country like India which envisages an ambitious 9% GDP growth during its Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12). Though energy output is progressively increasing, transmission losses, power pilferages, irregular billing is widening the demand-supply gap in the country. On the threshold of this growth curve, it is but prudent that government has initiated the Re-structured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (R-APDRP).

Though, individual projects are on since 1990s, government has initiated power sector reforms on a large scale in the country only recently. CESC is the first organisation that embarked on power reforms by introducing geospatial technology in 1990. Since then, companies are extensively using this technology in distribution, transmission as well as generation. For instance, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) is harnessing it in transmission, Alternate Hydro Energy Centre (AHEC) is using it in resource assessment for renewable energy resources and under R-APDRP, it has been integrated with distribution.

The key objectives of R-APDRP include:

  • To determine accountability and reduce AT&C (Aggregate Transmission & Commercial) losses.
  • Strengthening and upgrading sub-transmission and distribution network, and adoption of information technology.
  • To bring about reduction in outages and disruptions, & increase consumer satisfaction.

Understanding the key role of geospatial technologies, the Union Ministry of Power (MoP) has made use of GIS mandatory in the National Electricity Policy 2005 and Integrated Energy Policy.

Structure of R-APDRP
According to the R-APDRP norm, MoP will sanction money to Power Finance Corporation (PFC) which acts as a nodal agency. It will provide necessary support to R-APDRP Steering Committee and assist MoP in assessment of claims through empanelled Third Party Independent Evaluation Agencies (TPIEA) for conversion of power utility loans into grant for Part-A and Part-B projects respectively. Projects will be sanctioned by a steering committee (from the Ministry of Power) which will have representatives from all concerned bodies and it will be routed through the PFC to the utility/ state electricity distribution company (DISCOM) directly. According to R-APDRP norm, the money is first given to the utility in the form of a loan. After they achieve the desired target, it is converted into a grant, else it will remain a loan. PFC has already appointed KPMG as the process consultant for the reforms programme. Thus, it becomes a quadripartite agreement between the Ministry of Power, PFC, State government and the power utility.

Part-A of R-APDRP includes the establishment of baseline data and IT applications for energy accounting, auditing and consumer service centers with a project outlay of Rs 100 billion. Part-B includes regular distribution projects worth Rs 400 billion.

Some of the activities to be covered under part-A:

  • GIS mapping, metering of distribution transformers & feeders.
  • Automatic data logging for all distribution transformers and feeders and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition)/ DMS (document management system) system in the project area having more than 4 lac population and 350 MU annual input energy.

Some of the activities to be covered under Part-B:

  • Renovation, modernisation and strengthening of 11 kV level substations, transformers, transformer centers.
  • Strengthening of sub-transmission system to 33 kV or 66 kV levels in some exceptional cases.

The key objective of R-APDRP is to improve financial health of state electricity boards. There is no compulsion for states to work on this project. Yet, all the states in the country have initiated these reforms understanding the need.

Status of R-APDRP
As per the latest update, 25 private companies have been empanelled for the bidding process. Till December 2009, a total of 1,125 projects costing around Rs 4,174 crore under R-APDRP have been approved for 18 states. These are: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim and West Bengal. Recently, there is one more addition i.e Kerala.

The first benefit would be to get rid of power wastage and theft which amounts to about 15%. Spatial data will help power distribution bodies in ensuring optimum utilisation of power and spreading the power coverage areas especially at rural level. It will also place them in a position of early detection of fault and could ensure adequate power supply. Moreover, it will boost the distribution of clean energy.

All good things come with certain challenges. It applies to R-APDRP too. 18-36 months completion time is a huge challenge with this project. Dipak Kumar Banerji, IT Consultant, CESC Limited, India, said that CESC's geospatial project in Kolkata is running 2-3 months behind the scheduled time.

According to Satya Prasad, GIS Practice Head, TCS, "Handling real time data is a challenge." He pointed out few other challenges like lack of coordination between governing bodies, data availability and accuracy, aggregation and assimilation of data from multiple sources and formats, data interoperability, standards based approach towards developing spatial data infrastructure, flexibility in use of open source software and business software solutions and a spatial data chain. He believes these things will be crucial in the success of R-APDRP.

It was truly a long due policy which is in action now. The business opportunity for the IT sector remains in not only providing services and solutions but also providing trained manpower to implement the ambitious programme. On the other hand, it will be a concern to watch out how this infrastructure and systems are utilised and maintained after the completion of this multi-billion project.