The Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) guidelines mandate the deployment of smart meters through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) on a total expenditure (TOTEX) mode, ensuring a seamless transition and operational support to Distribution Companies (DISCOMS). A press release on smart metering was issued on December 15, 2023.
The implementation of Smart Metering in TOTEX mode makes the initiative self-financing, relieving DISCOMS from the burden of upfront capital expenditure. Given that smart metering involves new technology and several DISCOMS may lack the technical expertise for the operation and maintenance of smart metering systems, the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Service Provider (AMISP) assumes a pivotal role. The AMISP is responsible for the supply, maintenance, and operation of the metering infrastructure post-installation, and payment is structured, with a portion of the capital expenditure paid upfront and the remainder distributed over the operation and maintenance (O&M) period of 7-10 years on a per meter per month basis.
This approach ensures the end-to-end responsibility of AMISP for the entire life cycle of the project, from installation to ongoing operation. The incorporation of prepaid smart metering for consumers and system metering at Feeder and Distribution Transformer levels, equipped with communicating features and associated Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), streamlines energy accounting and auditing processes.
A priority focus of the RDSS guidelines is the implementation of prepaid smart metering projects for government departments, aligning with the broader goal of enhancing the operational and financial efficiency of DISCOMS. The inclusion of system meters in this initiative is poised to strengthen energy accounting and facilitate the timely collection of government department dues.
The introduction of two-way communication in smart metering solutions enables utilities to enhance their load forecasting capabilities, optimizing power procurement and reducing the cost of power supply. This, in turn, directly impacts the Aggregate Cost of Supply to Aggregate Revenue Requirement (ACS-ARR) gap and Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses. The improvement in billing and collection efficiency benefits end consumers while contributing to the broader objective of achieving sustainable energy management.
The contours, concepts, and components of the scheme, along with its key dimensions, were extensively discussed with states and DISCOMS during the Review Planning and Monitoring (RPM) meeting of the power sector on January 9, 2020. Subsequent deliberations took place during the Power Minister’s conference on July 3, 2020, reaffirming the commitment of the government to driving technological advancements in the power distribution sector.
Notably, the Government of Kerala has proposed an alternate model for the implementation of smart meters, and the Ministry has requested a detailed proposal and rollout plan for comprehensive examination in line with existing scheme guidelines.