1st smart grid pilot project non-functional

Operation, maintenance contract not renewed, Japan firm opts out of Rs145-cr project

1st smart grid pilot project non-functional

The empty control room of the Smart Grid Project in Panipat. File photo

Mukesh Tandon
Tribune News Service
Panipat, January 19

India’s first smart grid pilot project in Panipat has been non-functional for the last six months due to the lethargic attitude of senior officials of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN).

The reason: The government has not renewed the contract for operation and maintenance, following which the Japan-based company has opted out of the project.

The dream project of the state government was established as a pilot project in 2018 in collaboration with a Japan-based company at a cost of Rs 145 crore. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Kenko Sone, minister in economic and development section, Embassy of Japan, inaugurated the country’s first smart grid pilot project on January 25, 2019.

The Union Ministry of Power, state government, UHBVN and Japan-based New Energy Industrial Technology and Development Organisation (NEDO) signed a memorandum of understanding for the pilot project on December 2, 2015.

As per the pact, operation and maintenance of the smart grid pilot project was to be undertaken by NEDO for three years and by the state government thereafter.

The government did not renew the contract, after which the Japan-based company opted out in July last year, said Capt Kapil Kaushik, former manager at NEDO. A good pilot project failed due to the lethargic attitude of UHBVN officials, he said.

According to sources, the cost of the pilot project was over Rs 145 crore, of which the Japan-based company spent Rs 132.58 crore and the state government Rs 13 crore.

The four feeders of city division — city number 1, tehsil camp, conduit and Salarganj — had been selected for the smart grid pilot project. A joint team of the UHBVN and NEDO completed the pilot project in 2018.

A number of transformers, 1,300 poles and 11,000 electricity meters were replaced with smart meters having Japanese technology. A damaged cable was replaced with AB cable and a load-breaking switch was installed.

A fully automatic control room was established at the 33-KV sub-station at the mini-secretariat. It was vacant at present. Officials of the UHBVN had pointed out that employees need not visit houses for meter reading as it could be done from the control room.

Tampering with meters could be detected immediately and in case of a fault, power supply of that particular area could be cut off without affecting other areas, they had stated.

The smart grid pilot project was a den of corruption, alleged Tejpal, joint secretary, city unit, All Haryana Power Corporation Workers’ Union. He said work on the pilot project should be inquired and property of officials involved assessed.

The smart grid software was not working properly and a number of smart meters had been damaged, said Jatin Jangra, SDO of the Quilla subdivision. He said smart meters had been replaced with normal meters and spot billing started in the area.

The Japan-based company had completed its tenure, said Sanjeev Sharma, Executive Engineer. The pilot project was based on Japanese technology and needed proper maintenance, he stated. The matter was pending with the higher authorities at the headquarters because they were dealing with the smart grid pilot project, he maintained.

Aimed to ensure uninterrupted power

  • The Smart Grid Pilot Project, set up with the assistance of Japan, was aimed to ensure uninterrupted power supply to domestic as well as industrial consumers of Panipat
  • To solve the various complications faced by the power distribution sector, the state government had said 10 lakh smart meters will be installed in the state
  • At the time of inaugurating the project, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had said no one would have to visit houses for meter reading and if a meter or power supply was shut, the complaint would be resolved by the smart grid

Official apathy takes toll on ambitious project

  • The Union Ministry of Power, state government, UHBVN and Japan-based NEDO sign memorandum of understanding for pilot project on December 2, 2015
  • Operation and maintenance to be undertaken by NEDO for three years and by state government thereafter, but government does not renew contract

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