A target of 15 per cent reduction in aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses by March 2019 by state discoms has been a key barometer set by the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY). The UDAY target seems to be on track for Haryana’s power distribution company, Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (DHBVNL), which has been able to steadily bring down losses from a level of 24 per cent in 2013-14 to 16 per cent in the last fiscal year.

Set up on July 1, 1999 after fu rther reorganisation of Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited (HVPNL), DHBVNL is one of the two state discoms of Haryana, the other being Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (UHBVNL). DHBVNL caters to around 3.29 million consumers in 10 districts. In the last few years, initiatives such as network strengthening, replacement of old and ageing infrastructure under government programmes, procurement of smart meters, IT interventions to improve customer interface and DSM initiatives, have helped the utility deliver improved performance. In fact, under the annual ratings exercise conducted by the Power Finance Corporation in July 2018, the discom has been able to better its performance and achieve a B+ grade, depicting moderate operational and financial performance, as opposed to a B grade assigned in the previous rating round.

Current infrastructure and operations

As of March 2018, DHBVNL’s distribution line length stood at 143,758.51 km with majority of line length at 11 kV voltage level (52 per cent), followed by low tension (LT) (46 per cent) and 33 kV (3 per cent). Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, the company’s line length grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.97 per cent, with the fastest growth recorded at 33 kV level.

As of March 2018, the discom operated 268,088 distribution transformers (DTs). Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, the discom added 49,485 new DTs. As of March 2018, DHBVNL catered to over 3.29 million consumers. Its consumer mix is dominated by domestic consumers, who account for 78 per cent of its total consumer base. The agricultural (metered and unmetered connections) and non-domestic supply consumers account for an almost equal share of 9.52 per cent and 9.42 per cent respectively. Also, LT and high tension (HT) industries’ consumers account for 1.77 per cent.

Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, DHBVNL’s consumer base grew at a CAGR of 3.3 per cent. Category-wise, the fastest growth of 20.62 per cent has been in the non-domestic consumer category, followed by 18.04 per cent increase in the domestic consumer category and approximately 8 per cent increase in both agricultural and industrial consumers between 2013-14 and 2017-18. During 2017-18, the discom added 187,845 new connections.

Operational performance

Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, the discom’s AT&C losses have declined from as high as 24 per cent to 16 per cent. The discom’s AT&C losses are significantly lower than the national average of 22 per cent (as of September 2018) for UDAY states. The loss target for 2018-19 proposed to be achieved by the discom is 15 per cent.

Its distribution line losses have also considerably reduced from 23.66 per cent to 17.97 per cent in 2013-14 and 2017-18 respectively. Significantly, the discom has recorded close to 100 per cent collection efficiency in the last five years, which recorded 101.62 per cent in 2017-18. Meanwhile, the percentage of consumer complaints that were pending stood at 59.3 per cent (for October 2018), which was far beyond the national average of 6.8 per cent for the month. Further, there have been 31.6 times of power cuts in past months, as compared to 12 times of average power cuts in the month at the national level.

Progress under government schemes

As of October 2018, under UDAY, the discom has fully achieved the target of 100 per cent feeder metering, feeder segregation and rural feeder audit. Out of the target to provide electricity access to 2.63 million households, DHBVNL has been able to achieve electrification of 2.47 million households as of October 2018.

Under the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), a total grant of Rs 3,320 million has been approved for the discom. Of this, as of October 2018, 15.86 per cent (Rs 526.7 million) has been released. Under system strengthening, 16.92 per cent grant has been released. However, no grant has been released out of the Rs 206.5 million approved cost for IT Phase 1. As per the IPDS dashboard, all the DHBVNL towns (1,245) have been declared as “go-live”. Further, tenders worth Rs 2,880 million have been released as against a target of Rs 3,110 million. The state, as a whole, has progressed 23 per cent under the IPDS target.

Financial performance

In 2016-17, the total income stood at Rs 162,260.9 million, a 28 per cent increase over the previous year. DHBVNL’s income grew at a CAGR of 24 per cent from 2012-13 to 2016-17. Similarly, the utility’s expenditure increased at a CAGR of 11.85 per cent from 2012-13 to 2016-17. The net loss reduced from Rs 13,520 million from 2012-13 to Rs 4,162.9 million in 2016-17.

As per the UDAY dashboard, the average cost of supply (ACS)-average revenue realised (ARR) gap of the discom stands at Rs 0.53 per unit, as against the national average of Rs 0.35 per unit. The discom’s capital expenditure stood at Rs 6,409.3 million in 2016-17, Rs 5,650 million in 2015-16, Rs 6,680 million in 2014-15, Rs 7,250 million in 2013-14 and Rs 4,251 million in 2012-13. The capex proposed for 2018-19 is Rs 13,000 million, of which Rs 11,700 million has been approved by the state regulatory commission.

Key initiatives

In the past one to two years, an analysis of the capex incurred by DHBVNL showed that the major areas where the company undertook works were investments in load growth schemes such as the creation and augmentation of 33 kV lines and substations, replacement of old infrastructure, bifurcation of 11 kV feeders, revamping of meter testing labs, among others. The company has also invested in the replacement of bare conductors with LT-AB cables in theft-prone areas as part of UDAY. Further, significant investments have also been made by the discom under the state’s power supply scheme, “Mhara Gaon Jagmag Gaon” for rural areas and feeder sanitisation for urban areas.

A number of measures have also been taken to reduce the DT failure rate, which has come down from 10.42 per cent in 2013-14 to 8.82 per cent in 2017-18. Measures such as routine checking, load balancing, regular checking of oil level, proper earthing of DTs, installation of proper size fuse at HT and LT side, maintaining of LT lines to ensure proper working of DTs, augmentation of overloaded DTs and mandatory visits to field by senior officers are being taken to reduce the damage rate of DTs.

DHBVNL has been working on reducing the number of high loss feeders. As per the data provided by the discom, the number of urban feeders with losses of more than 25 per cent has come down from 159 to 112 from 2016-17 to 2017-18. Rural feeders with more than 50 per cent losses have come down from 562 to 502 in the same period.

To improve customer services, DHBVNL offers flexible and transparent options like e-billing, cash collection centres and online mode of payment for customers. It has set up various Bijli Suvidha Kendras (call centres), which have connectivity in rural areas and information facilitation counters/consumer helpline centres at the sub-divisional level. Further, the discom processes all new connection/load extension cases through the online portal. The discom has also implemented meter reading of consumers via hand-held devices. It is also implementing advanced metering infrastructure for the consumers above the 10 kW load. Besides these, DHBVNL has undertaken a number of initiatives for promoting demand side management. These include mandatory installation of 4-star rated motors and transformers, providing rebates on electricity bills to consumers who have installed solar water heaters as well as mandatory installation of solar photovoltaic power plants for a specified category of building/area.

The way forward

Going forward, the discom is planning to procure 500,000 single-phase meters and 140,000 three-phase meters for the replacement of defective meters and the release of new connections. The planned total capex for the procurement of these meters in 2018-19 is Rs 573.1 million. Further, significant capex would be undertaken for works in four smart cities (Gurugram, Karnal, Panchkula and Panipat). In fact, almost Rs 2.5 billion is proposed to be incurred for works on the smart city of Gurugram. Also, under UDAY, DHBVNL is planning to invest almost Rs 123 million for scaling up IT projects to non-Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme areas.

In sum, DHBVNL’s initiatives for significant network expansion, improvement in customer experience, reduction of AT&C losses, as well as improved metering and billing services, are expected to deliver results in the coming years.