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Exclusive interview with Rajesh Bansal, VP (MMG-EA), BSES Reliance, India and speaker at the upcoming African Utility Week in May 2013.

Rajesh Bansal

You are addressing the Metering Track at African Utility Week on “Meter Data Analytics”. Can you give us an overview of your presentation?
The meter plays the most vital role in the power distribution business. Nowadays, the role of meters is not limited to just generating energy consumption data for billing purposes.  Meter data, if analyzed using  proper software, can provide vital information about the quality of supply, health of LT network, quality of installation, breakdown response of field teams and can also give information about load growth and load forecasting.  Additionally, by analytics, one can easily identify the events of theft.  In BSES Delhi, we are downloading all the three million consumers using AMR/ HHU and analysing the data to generate various reports.

What are the main challenges here?
The main challenges for the meter data analytics team are:

  • To design meter specification, so that meter data becomes analytical friendly.
  • To find new logics to identify newer methods of theft.
  • Correct analysis and correct forecasting reports, so that the user department has enough confidence in analytical reports.

Can you give us examples of successful projects/case studies on MDA that you were involved in?
The companywide substantial loss reduction (by controlling the theft) based on meter data analytics is the biggest success of the BSES Meter Data Analytics Team. Furthermore, various reports regarding quality of supply, quality of network, breakdown response (non-availability of supply as registered by meter) which the meter data analytics team extracts from meter data, has helped to improve the efficiency of the breakdown team, revenue protection and better quality of supply to consumers.

How would you say the experience with projects in India is relevant to Africa?
Both India and African countries have similar problems and concerns, especially in context of electricity distribution. Typical problems for us are the shortage of supply (generation), electricity theft, stress on the network, depleted network condition and very low per house consumption. Meter data analytics is the technology which has improved our efficiency and helped consumers to get better supply. As the utilities have a similar background, so this technology has equal relevance for African utilities.

What current projects by Reliance are you particularly excited about?
The two projects which are very exciting that have been taken up by Reliance are:

  1. Use of meters for Demand Side Management,
  2. Use of meters (including DT meter and GIS) to predict fault. i.e. fault nature and location.

What surprises you about the metering industry?
In power distribution business, I feel the energy meter is the only device which has seen major technical innovation year after year. There seems to be no limit of innovation. Further the dependence of utilities on meters is going up with time.  However, I feel, the more the interaction between utilities and meter designers the better it is and the meter will then no longer be just a measuring instrument.  Presently in our distribution area, RTC of street light meters is also used as a timer to switch street lights on and off.  We need interactions and innovations.

What will be your message at African Utility Week?
Every utility has its own unique characteristics, unique concerns and problems. Thus each needs unique solutions. Technologies developed in western countries say, America and Europe, may not be directly suitable for Indian and African utilities.  Before going for a new technology, it is always better to know how it has performed with similar types of utilities. Interaction between Indian utilities and African utilities will be of great advantage to both, as we have a somewhat similar distribution business atmosphere. The more the interaction, the more there will be mutual benefits.

You have emphasised a lot on interactions. Can you specify with whom all you are interacting.
Our company has interacted/is interacting with various utilities worldwide, including utilities in Bhutan, Brazil and Nigeria. Furthermore, to develop a meter solution, I have interacted with meter companies/utilities in Romania, China, Egypt, Taiwan etc. Loss reduction as achieved by BSES along with improvement in customer care is appreciated by many utilities and they ask us to share our experience.  For a majority of utilities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, theft and breakdown are still major (and thus common) issues. Furthermore, new engineers are showing less interest in the electrical distribution business (as compared to IT and finance). I feel there is a need to motivate them and thus we frequently interact with university students and educate them about the technology and challenges in this business.