Govt to install AMI system to reduce power pilferage By Khalid Mustafa

Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022

ISLAMABAD: With transmission and distribution losses at 22 per cent per annum amounting to Rs750 billion, receivables of the power distribution companies (Discos) at over Rs1,600 billion, which is 70 per cent of the circular debt of Rs2,253 billion, the government has decided to install (Advanced Metering of Infrastructure) AMI meters by June 2023 on all high-loss feeders’ transformers, starting with feeders with the highest loss in their jurisdiction in the descending order.

The same AMI system will also be installed on all industrial and commercial connections, bulk consumers and one-point supply in the descending order of their loads. “This installation of high-tech system without man intervention will help significantly reduce the pilferage of electricity and technical losses as the decades-old conventional method of energy audit & accounting principle has failed to precisely identify energy stealing consumers & technical loss areas,” a senior official of the Energy Ministry privy to the development told The News. And to this effect, he said, a separate autonomous project directorate would be established. Each Disco would share the timeline of completion of these projects with the dedicated project director, other teams and the Power Division.

To a question, the official said that once feeder coding was corrected and consumers’ reference numbers were indexed with correct transformers, it would be easier for Discos to outsource transformers and feeders. Reading would be taken remotely through a real-time GSM technology (no need for meter readers) and recovery could be outsourced. One would also have the option to disconnect the meter remotely while sitting in the head office. However, for equipment removal, a 3rd party could be engaged if needed. He said outsourcing of bills distribution was possible if phone numbers of consumers were collected. A PDF e-bill could be sent to consumers on their smart phones with just one click.

And more importantly, the BoDs of Discos will further devise mechanism for outsourcing the commodity feeder wise to bulk power purchasers. The Discos will also align with meter manufacturers and contractors for specifications, features and implementation of AMI. The areas with weak or missing mobile signals, and meters communicating through PLCs (Power Carrier Lines) and DCUs (Data Concentrator Units) at transformers may be used.

The official said that the line losses in the UK stood at 7-9 per cent while in Japan, they were less than 5 per cent, but in Pakistan, the losses stood at 22 per cent. The Nepra had declared the permissible losses at 13.43 per cent whereas the actual T&D losses stood at 22 per cent. In 2009 and 2012, the official said the World Bank initiated energy sector reform projects in Latin America, South Asia and East Asia for “sustainable optimal reduction of technical losses and elimination of non-technical losses”.

It may not be out of place to mention that the Advanced Metering of Infrastructure (AMI) project was conceived and approved in 2016 by the Ecnec as a pilot project that was to be installed in the Lesco and the Iesco.