Upgrading the Grid

Private discoms’ IT measures in Maharashtra

Reliance Infrastructure Limited’s initiatives

Private discoms have been at the forefront of IT adoption to enhance their operational efficiency. Reliance Infrastructure Limited (RInfra), which caters to the electricity needs of over 2.9 million customers in Mumbai, has implemented a host of IT and operational technology initiatives such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), distributed management system (DMS) and outage management system (OMS). In addition, the company has launched a number of mobile applications for enhancing the consumer service experience and ensuring better network management. Through these initiatives, it aims to set up an intelligent grid and smart metering infrastructure, undertake asset management and enhance operational productivity.

SCADA

RInfra has deployed a SCADA system at its receiving substations, including extra high voltage stations, for real-time monitoring and control. The SCADA system has a distributed and redundant architecture to ensure high performance and efficiency. It has a master control centre as well as a backup control centre for disaster management. It is an integrated system that can monitor the generation, transmission and distribution networks under one roof for faster response to contingencies. Besides, the system can be integrated with new generation systems for building functionalities as per the system requirement. It operates on the optical mesh communication network, which ensures 100 per cent availability of remote sites, thereby resulting in no loss of information. The discom has also set up secondary SCADA at over 2,100 substations for remote monitoring and control of the ring main units during planned and breakdown maintenance. The SCADA system set up by RInfra is one of the few SCADA systems in the country that is certified under ISO 27001 for mitigating the risk of cyberattacks.

DMS

The DMS set up by RInfra is equipped with functionalities such as load balancing via feeder reconfiguration, network connectivity analysis, voltage and reactive power control, load shed application, fault management and system restoration, and loss minimisation via feeder reconfiguration. It helps in improving the quality of power supplied to consumers and optimising network operations. Further, DMS aids in reducing network losses by optimising reactive power compensation and feeder reconfiguration. Besides, it reduces the operating expenditure and optimises the capex of the utility through inputs for network planning. The system provides real-time analysis of any short circuit, which helps identify faults in the high-tension (HT) cable section for faster fault isolation and supply restoration. Further, it serves as a platform for the integration of advanced metering infrastructure, OMS and distributed energy resource.

OMS

RInfra has implemented an OMS that enables predicting the outage location for faster identification of faults and complaint management. It allows for effective utilisation of field crew for faster response through the prioritisation of actions. Further, based on consumer calls and the network topology, the heuristic engine predicts the probable fault locations. Statistical analysis of repeated events helps in undertaking corrective action. The system also issues SMSs and emails in case of outages. Overall, the OMS helps take immediate action in case of an outage.

App-based initiatives

RInfra has launched a number of mobile apps for enhancing the consumer experience and operational efficiency in its distribution area. The company has introduced the Fusemanmobile application that automatically allocates complaints to the fuseman. It provides intelligent insights to the crew in real time to support the operations and maintenance of the network. It provides for fault location prediction based on the nature of the complaint. Overall, with the app, manual intervention can be minimised.

The company has developed a geographic information system (GIS)-based app for employees. The app provides real-time information to employees for productivity improvement. The app comprises a GIS portal with HT/low-tension outage information, option to capture/modify asset details, vehicle monitoring system, information about fault locations, and transmission and distribution loss details, among other things. Besides this, in order to enhance the consumer experience, the company has launched a mobile app which provides services to consumers digitally. The app is available on the Android and iOS platforms. It provides consumers with options to view and pay bills, and to submit online applications for name change, load change, new connections, etc. It allows the consumer to submit complaints in case of no power supply. It also allows consumers to register complaints regarding street lights.

Other initiatives

The discom also undertakes underground cable fault prediction based on real-time SCADA/DMS data, historical records and technical testing reports. This enables precise prediction relating to the faulty cable section at the 11 kV voltage level and helps in minimising large area outages. Besides this, in order to tackle power theft, the company is undertaking a number of innovative solutions such as the setting up of a theft aversion box, which ensures restricted access to service cable termination, thereby averting direct theft of electricity.

Future plans

Going forward, the company plans to become a proactive energy partner by providing advanced energy solutions such as electronic vehicle charging and energy storage solutions. It aims to enhance the consumer experience by providing services through digital platforms. The company is focusing on setting up an intelligent grid with features like predictive maintenance. It is also working towards setting up an agile enterprise, besides ensuring grid stability as consumers become prosumers.

In sum, RInfra has been able to match pace with the state-of-the-art technology solutions in the power distribution segment. These initiatives have helped the discom in a big way to meet emerging consumer requirements and enhance operational performance.

Based on a presentation by Dr P.V. Chawande, Senior Vice-President, Reliance Infrastructure Limited, at Power Line’s workshop on “Grid Modernisation in Maharashtra”

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