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Indian state power utility goes hi-tech

Kolkata, India: West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. (WBSEDCL) in India invested in strengthening IT infrastructure to set up a virtual monitoring network that can later be used to manage the system, right from the generating station to the consumer.
Under the IT infrastructure project, each and every consumer point was mapped using differentiated geographical information system (GIS). The GIS aims to enable real-time and precise fault location to ensure faster restoration. It will also enable real-time monitoring of technical and commercial loss, thereby facilitating remedial measures including anti-pilferage drives.
Also, mobile fault repair vans will be fitted with GPS-enabled machines that can pinpoint the vehicle’s location, thereby ensuring prompt repair.
“Delay in supply connection, restoration of supply in case of breakdown as well as billing and collection, that plagued the system, will disappear for a quarter of WBSEDCL consumers soon. As the IT network expands, the circle will widen, bringing more consumers under the ambit,” power minister Manish Gupta said after inaugurating the INR 57-crore central data centre at Rajarhat that has a disaster recovery unit at Berhampore.
The project is funded by the Government of India and included INR 134 crore spent to beef up the network and make it IT-enabled. The data centre covers 22-23 lakh of the 95 lakh consumers, allowing seamless metering, billing and collection through 121 customer care centres in 62 towns. Till now, 38 centres have been rolled out. “Over the next three years, a major part of the rest of the state will be brought under its ambit,” Gupta added.
Over the next three years, additional INR 250 crore will be spent to extend the service to rest of Bengal and implement Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) package to monitor faults in Kolkata urban area ( Salt Lake, Baguiati, Garia, Baruipur), Siliguri and Asansol. “When implemented, the highly-automated system can be remotely operated. It will enable smoother and efficient load shedding management. At present, the command for loadshedding is conveyed over phone from the main control room and has to be done manually,” said power secretary Moloy De.
While the three zones will be SCADA-ready in three years, it will take a further three to four years to roll it out in other areas of the state. “The equipment in use needs to be SCADA-compliant. While we are ensuring that all new equipment that is purchased meets the criteria, some other equipment will require retro-fitment while others need to be replaced,” said De.
SCADA will usher in smart grid that will enable handling of business operations-procurement and supply of power, as well as billing and accounting-on a single electronic platform. It will also allow power connections to be remotely disconnected in case bills are not paid.
“This smart grid will also be self healing. In case of a fault, the system will find out an alternate line of supply till the time the fault is manually attended. This would be India’s first smart grid. It is being done in conjunction with Harnest Technologies Ltd as well as PTC which is the venture capitalist,” WBSEDCL chairman and managing director Rajesh Pandey added.
Source: Times of India