Power Capital: Delhi discoms script a success story through 20 years of privatisation

Delhi discoms script a success story through 20 years of privatisation

Delhi’s power discoms have completed 20 years of successful operations post privatisation. On this occasion, Power Line spoke to the top management of Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (Tata Power-DDL), a joint venture (JV) of Tata Power and the Government of the NCT of Delhi; and BSES (BSES Rajdhani Power Limited and BSES Yamuna Power Limited, JVs of Reliance Infrastructure Limited and the Government of the NCT of Delhi) to get their views on the progress achieved by the companies, the key initiatives and technological interventions undertaken as well as their future plans and key priority areas going forward. Excerpts…

How has power distribution in Delhi evolved over the past two decades?

Ganesh Srinivasan

Chief Executive Officer, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited

Tata Power-DDL has come a long way in the past two decades of its existence. It has demonstrated that aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses can be reduced drastically by using technology, modernising systems and improving processes. It has also won the prestigious Edison Award (twice) for outstanding contribution to the advancement of the industry worldwide.

Tata Power-DDL has consistently overachieved its targets and scripted an unprecedented turnaround story. In a span of 20 years, AT&C loss levels have been reduced from 53 per cent in 2001-02 to 6.8 per cent in 2021-22 (against a countrywide average AT&C loss of approximately 21 per cent), showcasing one of the few success stories of the public-private partnership model.

The erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board faced several challenges such as inadequate investment in network infrastructure, high operational losses, huge revenue losses (due to theft and misuse of electricity), often leading to widespread customer unrest and also poor payment discipline by consumers because of unreliable services.

Since privatisation in 2002, major improvements have been effected in network reliability and customer services. The key differentiating factor has been the optimal and effective deployment of technology interventions, workforce development and also social initiatives, in line with the core ethos of the Tata Group.

Over the past two decades, some of the key elements responsible for this evolution have been:

  • Consistent investment in the network outlay: Capex was infused in the electrical network to bring about significant improvement in reliability as well as to drive AT&C loss reduction. Development of IT/OT technology was undertaken with a focus on building capability of in-house teams to manage these systems and also drive established original equipment manufacturers to adapt their systems to the Indian context and realities.
  • Grid modernisation and automation: Implementation of supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA), geographic information system (GIS), advanced distribution management systems (ADMS) and low voltage (LV) automation.
  • Customer first: Enhancing customer experience was set as a key priority. Key customer facing processes such as new connection, payment and complaint handling process were redesigned from the customer perspective and made user friendly.
  • Digitalisation: Reducing dependency on manual systems and strengthening digital systems to automate processes, improve quality, reduce errors, remove manual dependency and enhance tracking of customer processes at every stage. Nearly 0.3 million smart meters were installed across consumer segments – domestic, industrial and commercial – and old static and mechanical meters were replaced with electronic meters to facilitate giving real-time consumption and other value-added information to consumers.
  • New milestones and breakthroughs: From installing battery energy storage systems to live peer-to-peer solar energy trading, and setting up urban microgrids, the company has been able to achieve technological breakthroughs and new milestones to ensure better peak load management, system flexibility and reliable power to consumers.

BSES officials

BSES operates and manages one of the most advanced distribution networks in India to deliver reliable and quality electricity supply to customers spread across its service territory. To achieve its objective, BSES has upgraded and modernised the distribution network and deployed technologies such as SCADA, GIS, intelligent outage management system (iOMS) and distribution management system, to name a few among others. The discom has maintained network reliability of over 99.9 per cent for the past five years. This has made the network more robust and enhanced its carrying capacity. As a result, customers are experiencing improved voltage quality, stability in power supply and quicker fault detection and repairing.

  • BSES has one of the most advanced power distribution networks. The company is evaluating a host of next-generation technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to transform the grid in the coming years.
  • To meet the growing demand for power, BSES is regularly enhancing the distribution network capacity by adding new grid substations and power transformers, laying new feeders, shifting overhead lines underground and setting up new distribution transformers (DTs), among others.
  • BSES has initiated one of the fastest smart meter roll-out programmes anywhere in the world. As part of the exercise, discoms have released tender documents in June 2022 inviting applications for the supply of 5 million smart meters, with a capital outlay of up to Rs 40 billion.
  • Since 2002, BSES discoms have increased the network capacity including extra high voltage (EHV) and DTs by over 11,500 MVA, an increase of over 125 per cent (from 9,190 MVA to over 20,500 MVA); and added over 6,600 DTs – an increase of nearly 90 per cent (from 7,509 to over 14,000). Further, it has added over 25,000 low tension (LT) feeders (from 25,412 to over 51,000); laid over 18,000 km of cables EHV/11 kV/LT) an increase of around 130 per cent (from 14,755 km to over 32,600 km); and added 53 grids, an increase of over 50 per cent (from 103 to 156).

What have been the operational and financial highlights of your discom since its inception?

Ganesh Srinivasan

Tata Power-DDL has been a pioneer in adopting smart and sustainable technology solutions to improve both operational and financial performance, and enhance customer experience. Here is a comparative of the company’s performance over the past two decades (July 2001-02 vs March 2022):

  • There has been a record reduction of 87 per cent in AT&C losses, from 53.1 per cent to 6.8 per cent.
  • System-level reliability – availability index improved from 70 per cent to 99.84 per cent.
  • Transformer failure rate has gone down from 11 per cent to 0.78 per cent.
  • Peak load has significantly gone up from 930 MW to 2,229 MW.
  • Street light functionality has gone up from 40 per cent to 99.17 per cent.
  • Number of days to get a new connection energised has gone down from over 51 days to 3 days now.
  • Meter replacement time has come down from 25 days to nearly 3 days.
  • Mean time to repair faults has come down from 11 hours to 0.67 hours.
  • Consumer satisfaction index stands at 97 per cent.

BSES officials

BSES has taken a lead in adopting best-in-class technologies to reduce AT&C losses and to ensure reliable and quality power supply to its customers.

  • BSES has established SCADA to monitor network on a real-time basis. ADMS has also been established to optimise system operation for speedy restoration in case of any fault.
  • BSES has strengthened the network – grids, power transformers, new cables, replacement of cables, addition and augmentation of DTs, besides the induction of technological solutions such as state-of-the-art iOMS.
  • We believe in empowering the field workforce. We have a dedicated mobile app for real-time complaint assignment, closure and capturing of actions undertaken. We have a dedicated department to monitor power pilferage due to which the loss level in BSES is around 7 per cent.
  • We have a GPS-driven vehicle management system in place. This helps monitor the mobile team to quickly reach the breakdown/outage location.
  • BSES has several pockets/areas in its licence area, especially unauthorised colonies, which are overcrowded and have acute space constraints for system upgradation due to load growth. BSES has deployed several innovative, compact solutions to maintain reliability in the space-constrained areas, including compact grid substations, e-house grid, micro substations, double-decker/two-tier substations and elevated substations.
  • Today, a BSES consumer can register a power outage complaint through multiple ways, including IVRS facility on a toll-free number, mobile app (BRPL Power App/BYPL Connect), BSES website, www.bsesdelhi.com, WhatsApp and chatbot available on BSES website, mobile app and Facebook.

What are some of the key initiatives and technological interventions undertaken by these discoms?

Ganesh Srinivasan

Technology has always been a key enabler for Tata Power-DDL to improve its operations and services. Post the takeover, Tata Power-DDL partnered with a US-based consulting group to formulate a strategic technology roadmap. As part of the roadmap, it prioritised and deployed key technologies – communication network, grid automation, SAP-ISU, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), GIS, grid substation automation systems, communication network, SCADA and OMS and ADMS to overcome the lack of tools to monitor network alignment.

  • Electromechanical meters were replaced with static electronic meters to improve metering and billing efficiencies.
  • Since there was a very limited focus on network upgradation, the LT network in theft-prone areas was replaced by a HT network and new, small capacity transformers (HVDS), were installed near load centres.
  • LT bare conductors were replaced with LT aerial bundled conductors to bring down loss levels.
  • All resource-intensive business processes such as new connection issuance, grievance redressal, metering and billing were centralised and digitised to ensure faster resolution of issues.
  • New grids and substations were constructed based on the load requirement and the overall distribution system was strengthened.
  • A state-of-the-art fibre-optic communication infrastructure was implemented to support all enterprise systems as well as communication between grid stations and SCADA.
  • The entire network and customer connectivity to the network was mapped on GIS. This is the foundation needed to identify and pinpoint losses on the network.
  • There was a delay in decision regarding shifting of load/partial load to other feeders, owing to a lack of real-time network data. So, AMR meters, and at a later stage, AMI/smart meters were deployed to get real-time information on the network to enable real-time decision-making.

BSES officials

  • SCADA-enabled grids for real-time remote operations.
  • iOMS has been implanted for effective outage monitoring and control.
  • Energy audit at each voltage level for authentic loss calculation and analysis. Effective meter data-based analytics for theft detection and network planning.
  • GIS mapping of the network and GIS tagging of consumers. This results in easier identification of the fault and the affected consumer and prompt action can be taken.
  • Best-in-class load flow study software for effective network planning and removal of bottlenecks.
  • SCADA communicable FPIs (fault passage indicators) to identify and isolate the fault point and restore power supply through alternative 11 kV sources.
  • BSES has state-of-the art transformer and switchgear repair workshops for in-house repairing of the distribution equipment. This saves time for equipment repair/serving time.
  • Application software and mobile applications aiding the field staff in monitoring, control and closure of field issues.
  • Implementation of innovative network solutions, for theft-prone areas.
  • A shift from a preventive to a predictive/pre-emptive maintenance regime for greater reliability of the network.
  • Centralised monitoring and control has helped BSES to reduce its network downtime, restoration cost, customer inconvenience and realise potential revenue loss.
  • Apart from this, BSES consumers can register power supply complaints through digital means, on account of which the consumer footfall at all our complaint centres has reduced.
  • The training given to linemen/operations and maintenance (O&M) officials plays a significant role in ensuring reliable power supply. A holistic approach is taken towards imparting training to linemen/O&M officials, which covers behavioural, functional, technical and safety-related topics for the linemen.

What are the discom’s future plans for network expansion and strengthening? What are your key priority areas?

Ganesh Srinivasan

In the first decade of existence, the company focused on building a legacy and a strong foundation, while in the second decade, the focus has completely shifted to growing, adapting and becoming future ready. In the third decade, the company is focused on becoming a leader in sustainability.

Going forward, the following are some of our priority areas:

  • To become a role model in occupational health and safety;
  • To ensure tariff is cost-reflective and costs such as power purchase costs are optimised;
  • To become a benchmark utility in the reliability index at both HT and LT levels;
  • To provide additional services beyond the regulatory mandate and emerge as a one-stop solution for all energy needs;
  • To enhance renewable energy capacity to reach 50 per cent green energy by 2027 (from 21 per cent today);
  • To establish a green supply chain in partnership with business associates to cut down the carbon footprint at the suppliers’ end; and
  • To become a leader in distributed energy resources and technology implementation such as battery storage, microgrids, etc.

BSES officials

  • By 2023-24, over 50 per cent of the power portfolio will be green, making BSES one of the greenest discoms in the country.
  • BSES discoms have been leading the charge to promote rooftop solar in a big way. Today, it has facilitated installation of over 4,600 rooftop solar systems with a connected load of over 125 MWp.
  • BSES discoms are also spearheading the EV revolution in the national capital. They have facilitated the installation of over 800 EV charging points in south, west, east and central Delhi.
  • BSES consumers in Delhi can connect and apply for a host of services by using the mobile app, website and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp. There is no need for a consumer to visit a BSES office for availing any service. Before privatisation, customer care was almost non-existent.