CSPDCL: Marking a turnaround

Marking a turnaround

State discom Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Company Limited (CSPDCL) has emerged as one of the major gainers under the central government’s Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY). The discom has registered a positive margin in 2016-17 as against a revenue gap (of around 38 paise) in the preceding year. Further, it has reported significant savings of Rs 5.2 billion in 2016-17 with interest costs coming down to almost 19 per cent of 2015-16 levels. As per the power ministry, the discom, which had been reeling under losses for the past several years, reportedly turned profitable in the first quarter of 2016-17.

Established in January 2009 following the unbundling of the Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board, CSPDCL is responsible for power distribution in Chhattisgarh. As of March 31, 2017, the discom’s overall consumer base stood at 4.74 million, including almost 2,608  high tension (HT) and extra high tension consumers. The discom has been able to achieve 100 per cent metering for its consumers. Its aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, although high at around 21.01 per cent in 2016-17, have registered a declining trend over the years. With UDAY and a number of other initiatives planned with central support, the utility is aiming at upgrading and modernising its network to bring down AT&C losses to 15 per cent by 2018-19.

Distribution network

CSPDCL operates 287,340 km of distribution lines (as of March 2017), about 60 per cent (170,952 km) of which comprises low tension (LT) lines, 34 per cent (97,409 km) 11 kV lines and the remaining 33 kV distribution lines. As of March 31, 2017, the utility had 979 substations at the 33/11 kV voltage level, with a capacity of 5,825 MVA and 139,497 distribution transformers (DTs), with a capacity of 10,674 MVA. With regard to online 11 kV feeder auditing in rural areas, the utility is currently providing data for integration with the national power portal. REC Transmission Projects Company Limited has already placed order for installation of modem in all the rural feeders which is under progress.

Operational performance

Over the past five years, the discom has taken a host of initiatives to reduce its AT&C losses and has achieved a considerable decline, from 26.04 per cent in 2012-13 to 21.01 per cent in 2016-17. Some of the measures taken in this regard are construction of new 33/11 kV substations and its associated HT lines for system improvement, reduction in the length of HT lines, and bifurcation of overloaded 33 kV and 11 kV feeders. Further, CSPDCL is installing only star-rated distribution transformers in order to reduce distribution losses. It has also implemented  high voltage distribution system and aerial bunched (AB) cable laying project to safeguard against theft by hooking from bare conductors of LT lines, resulting in a reduction in distribution and commercial losses. To reduce commercial losses, the utility has created a special vigilance cell in 15 circles, an HT squad, and operations and maintenance teams to curb theft and other irregularities. In addition, it has achieved 100 per cent metering, with static meters for all categories of consumers including agricultural and below poverty line (BPL) consumers. CSPDCL is also carrying out a pilot project comprising photo meter reading in the Champa division.

Financial performance

As per the provisional results for 2015-16, CSPDCL registered revenues of Rs 96.22 billion, against Rs 79.46 billion in 2014-15. Its net losses increased from Rs 15.54 billion in 2014-15 to Rs 17.75 billion in 2015-16. The dismal financial performance was a result of low billing efficiency, high employee costs (14.9 per cent of revenue in 2015-16) and delays in subsidy payments by the state government. While official estimates have not been disclosed, the power ministry, in a recent review, noted that the discom reported profits in the first quarter of 2016-17.

Metering status

As of March 31, 2017, the utility has achieved 100 per cent metering for its 596 feeders at the 33 kV voltage level and for 4.74 million consumers, including agricultural consumers and BPL consumers. For its 11 kV feeders, about 80 per cent metering has been completed, while for the total 137,357 DTs, 47.06 per cent metering has been completed. Installation of smart meters other than agricultural pumps is being taken up and procurement work is under process. Going forward, the utility has set ambitious targets to achieve 100 per cent metering for its 11 kV feeders, and DT metering in urban and rural areas. CSPDCL also plans to install smart meters for all its connections (other than agricultural) by March 2019.

Key IT initiatives

CSPDCL was the first power utility to implement SAP-enterprise resource planning in 2005. Further, wide area network has been provided up to the distribution centre level, the lowest energy billing unit. Under the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme Part A, apart from some SAP modules, geographic information system and MDAS have also been implemented in 20 towns. Spot billing has been adopted in 20 major cities and the suburban area of Chhattisgarh, and about 1.1 million consumers have been covered under it with a target to cover 2 million over the next few months. Photo spot billing has also been started and 9,000 consumers are currently being billed through photo spot billing.

The utility is also carrying out automatic meter reading system installation work in all 2,608 HT connections and 21,919 industrial and non-domestic LT consumers with loads of 15 HP and above for billing and monitoring, which accounts for 70 per cent of the revenue of the company. Apart from traditional cash collection, various bill collection facilities have been made available to consumers. These include anytime payment machines, online bill payments, and payments through Paytm and the CSPDCL mobile app. At present, about 63 per cent of LT and 15 per cent of HT revenue collection is being done through these modes. A new online service connection application facility for HT and LT consumers in all categories is functional across the state. Consumers can also use the web self-service facility for online bill payments, multiple account services, etc.

Major ongoing projects

CSPDCL is implementing the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) in all 27 districts of the state. For this, detailed project reports (DPRs) worth Rs 12.57 billion have been sanctioned under this scheme for electrification of 121 unelectrified villages (which were not covered in any of the previously sanctioned schemes for electrification) and 5,921 habitations. The discoms will also install 80 new 33 kV substations and undertake capacity augmentation of around 101 existing substations under the programme, besides separation works in 366 11 kV feeders. CSPDCL is also implementing the Integrated Power Distribution System (IPDS) scheme in 181 towns. For this scheme, 15 DPRs worth Rs 4.89 billion have been sanctioned. As part of the IPDS, 270 km of new 33 kV lines, 672 km of 11 kV lines, 146 km of LT lines, 1,516 new substations, capacity augmentation of 1,977 DTs and replacement of 2,996 km of bare conductors by LT AB cables are planned to be implemented.

Apart from implementing projects under central government programmes, the discom is implementing sub-transmission network works for strengthening the distribution network by securing a loan from REC Limited. For this, DPRs for projects worth Rs 9.02 billion have been sanctioned between March 2016 and July 2016. The work includes laying of 3,302 km of 33 kV lines and 1,722 km of 11 kV lines; setting up of 194 new 33/11 kV substations and 112 additional power transformers; and capacity augmentation of 119 existing power transformers. CSPDCL is also executing the high voltage distribution system scheme in four divisions covering 251 feeders.

Challenges and the way forward

According to CSPDCL, one of the biggest challenges in project execution has been the non-participation of bidders in tenders in left-wing extremism-affected districts. Timely restoration of power supply is also difficult in these areas. Another problem area for the utility is the coverage of online/offline pump consumers and BPL consumers’ monthly meter reading. Prevention of electricity theft in rural areas is also quite challenging for the utility. Apart from these, the availability of input material from manufacturers under the DDUGJY and the IPDS has been an issue. The utility is, however, working on these challenges to ensure that the ambitious targets for smart metering, AT&C loss reduction, village electrification and UDAY are met in the next two to three years. While early results indicate that the state has been able to deliver positive gains, the challenge for the discom now is to sustain the reform momentum.

Renu Dahiya