Set up in 2002, Gulbarga Electricity Supply Company Limited (GESCOM) has played a significant role in reforming Karnataka’s power distribution network through technological developments. The company is responsible for purchase, distribution and retail supply of electricity as well as for providing infrastructure for open access, wheeling and banking in six districts of Karnataka – Beddar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Bellary and Koppal.
In 2014-15, GESOM reduced its aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses by 7.55 percentage points over the previous year. This was achieved through technology deployments, regular energy audits and policy initiatives. The discom has made significant progress under schemes like the Nirantara Jyothi Yojana (NJY) and Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) to augment its distribution infrastructure and improve operational efficiency.
Distribution network and consumer base
At the end of March 2015, GESCOM’s distribution infrastructure comprised 134,037 ckt. km of distribution lines and 5,479 MVA of transformer capacity. Of the total distribution line length, around 61 per cent is at the low tension (LT) level, 37 per cent at the high tension (HT) level and 2 per cent at the 33 kV level. Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, the network increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.24 per cent. The fastest growth of 7.91 per cent was witnessed in the HT segment.
Meanwhile, of the total transformer capacity, around 78 per cent is at the 33 kV level while 22 per cent is at the 11 kV level. GESCOM owns and operates a total of 260 substations with around 50 per cent at the 33 kV level, 37 per cent at the 110 kV level, 8 per cent at the 66 kV level and 5 per cent at the 220 kV level.
In 2014-15, GESCOM operated 1,506 feeders, with 108 feeders at the 33 kV level and 1,398 at the 11 kV level. As of September 2015, the company had 75,015 distribution transformer centres (DTCs), of which 55,886 were metered. Between April 2015 and October 2015, 2,608 distribution transformers were added to GESCOM’s network.
GESCOM’s consumer base increased at a CAGR of around 3 per cent during 2010-15, to reach 2.59 million as of March 2015. Around 54 per cent of the consumers fall under the domestic category followed by others (24 per cent), agricultural consumers (12 per cent), commercial consumers (8 per cent) and industrial consumers (2 per cent).
GESCOM recorded a steady decline in its AT&C losses from 28.65 per cent in 2010-11 to 21.1 per cent in 2014-15. During this period, distribution losses reduced from 22 per cent to 19 per cent, owing to a number of initiatives taken by GESCOM involving reconductoring works, reducing LT lines and increasing HT lines, replacement of aluminium conductor steel-reinforced cables with aerial-bunched cables, addition of distribution transformers to the network, replacement of non-recording meters, metering of street light circuits, etc.
GESCOM’s energy efficiency initiatives improved its billing efficiency from 77.94 per cent in 2010-11 to 81.07 per cent in 2014-15. Meanwhile, its collection efficiency improved from 89.06 per cent to 97.31 per cent.
In terms of reliability indices, GESCOM’s system average interruption frequency index declined from 412.22 interruptions per customer in 2013-14 to 359.47 interruptions per customer in 2014-15. The system average interruption duration index also declined from 10,621.26 minutes to 987.01 minutes during this period.
Meanwhile, the utility’s energy sales increased from 4,844 MUs in 2010-11 to 6,131 MUs in 2014-15 at a CAGR of 6 per cent. Of the total energy sales in 2014-15, 78 per cent were accounted for by the LT consumer segment, while the remaining 22 per cent was sold to HT consumers. The company’s metering coverage also improved significantly, with metered sales increasing from 28 per cent in 2005-06 to 38 per cent in 2014-15. As of March 2015, 82.25 per cent of industrial consumers in GESCOM’s coverage area were metered, along with 46 per cent of agricultural consumers and 67 per cent of distribution transformers.
The discom took several initiatives to bring down commercial losses through the replacement of electromechanical meters with electrostatic meters and improved vigilance activities to identify theft and pilferage. In order to bring down technical losses, GESCOM adopted schemes such as the high voltage distribution system (HVDS) scheme, the Nirantara Jyothi Yojana, regularisation of IP sets, the RGGVY, the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP) and financial restructuring.
The NJY is a major project implemented by the Karnataka government, which enables the segregation of non-agricultural and agricultural loads in rural areas, reduces transformer failure, increases metered sales, reduces technical losses and improves load management, thus allowing discoms to provide 24×7 power supply to non-agricultural consumers in rural areas. As of April 2015, 30 talukas under GESCOM were covered under two phases of the NJY, 13 talukas were covered under the Rural Load Management System and 226 feeders were installed. The total detailed project report (DPR) cost for the scheme is Rs 4.41 billion, of which Rs 2.87 billion will be spent under Phase I while the remaining will be used under Phase II. A total of 344 feeders at the 11 kV level were proposed under this scheme, of which 223 feeders have been commissioned till now.
Under the RGGVY, which aims to provide electricity access to rural households, GESCOM electrified 0.22 million rural households. In addition, the company undertook the HVDS scheme in Bellary and Raichur districts at an estimated cost of Rs 4.29 billion. Under this scheme, a pilot project has been planned in Sindhanoor taluka and the DPR has been prepared.
For system improvement, GESCOM has adopted several best practices such as HVDS, replacement of inefficient pump sets, distribution automation systems, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, energy audit, billing and collection efficiency and replacement of distribution transformers.
During 2014-15, GESCOM’s total revenue stood at Rs 31.66 billion and its net losses at Rs 1.09 billion. While the company’s total revenue recorded an increase of 7.9 per cent in 2014-15 over the previous year, the net profits reduced considerably. The total revenue collection from energy sales was Rs 31.25 billion in 2014-15.
Meanwhile, GESCOM incurred a capital expenditure of Rs 2.9 billion in 2014-15, a decrease of 31 per cent over 2013-14. Of this, Rs 1,393 million was spent on rural electrification schemes.
GESCOM plans to augment its distribution network and transformer capacity in the future. Between 2015-16 and 2018-19, the company plans to increase its distribution line length to 134,455 ckt. km with the maximum increase at the 11 kV level. In addition, it is planning to augment its transformer capacity to 10,849 MVA, mainly at the 11 kV level (61 per cent) followed by the LT level (37 per cent) and the 33 kV level (2 per cent).
As per GESCOM’s investment programme for 2015-16, it plans to construct 15 substations at the 33/11 kV voltage level along with associated 33 kV lines. Work on five substations has already started and is expected to be completed by 2016, while the remaining 10 substations will be completed by 2017. Meanwhile, the utility plans to augment 11 substations at the 33/11 kV level by providing additional 1×5 MVA power transformers with associated switchgear and equipment.
The discom will also undertake reconductoring of 33 kV and 11 kV lines and construction of 227 NJY feeders to provide 24×7 continuous power supply to non-agricultural consumers in rural areas. Apart from this, SCADA works at 33/11 kV substations and R-APDRP works in 21 towns under GESCOM are already in progress. The company has floated tenders for rural DTC metering and work is expected to begin soon. To this end, GESCOM will undertake a capex of Rs 5.11 billion in 2015-16, which is planned to be increased to Rs 16.77 billion by 2019-20.
GESCOM has been steadily modernising and strengthening its distribution networks, which has led to a decline in the utility’s AT&C losses. Going forward, the utility needs to augment its efforts to improve performance as the losses are still higher than the national R-APDRP target of 15 per cent.
Based on inputs from V. Krishanappa, Superintending Engineer, GESCOM, at a recent Power Line conference