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What is a Smart meter?

Published on Jun 10, 2023
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Smart meters have been making a lot of noise these days.

They say that Smart meters can reduce our grid’s energy losses!

EESL (Energy Efficiency Services Limited) of India has installed 1.32 million smart meters and India has a target of replacing 250 million conventional meters with prepaid smart meters!!

But what are smart meters and why is India gung-ho on this?

Your conventional energy meters let you know the energy that is being consumed. But for that, you need to physically see it to know the readings, even for the persons who are to bill it.

Remember during the 1st Covid lockdown? As it was not possible to go to each house to bill electricity used, they went by the previous month's reading standards and corrected them against the new bill that was generated in person (More about this issue has been covered here).

But what if we could see the readings from an App that can be accessed from any part of the world? And can be billed instantaneously at the end of the month? A pretty straightforward digital idea, ain’t it?

This is where the Smart meter enters.

A Smart meter can record different electric parameters like energy consumed, voltage levels, current, and power factor and communicates to the user via an app.

This gives greater clarity of consumption behaviour, and electricity suppliers (aka DISCOMs in the Indian power sector) for system monitoring, supply planning and customer billing. Smart meters can typically record energy in real time and can report regularly at short intervals.

Apart from making information easily accessible, what else can a smart meter do?

DISCOMs (Electricity Distribution Companies) usually suffer because of the loss they face with the conventional meters that are misused and lead to power theft, meter tampering, billing inaccuracy and also the lead time between the issue of the electricity bill and payment.

Most of the smart meter payments are in Prepaid mode.

You might also have observed a similar phenomenon of payment if you are living in one of the Gated communities in an Urban city. If yes, you are already in the World of Smart meters :)

The reason for going prepaid is to avoid the lead time between the issue of the bill by the provider and payment by the customer; also avoid any late bill payments and collection issues.

Such payments are also being arranged through an app by DISCOM too.

The next step in having such smart meters is to inculcate usage behaviours too. Once it is prepaid, it is expected that consumers become more conscious of their usage of electricity.

How is the Smart meter project shaping up?

As per the National Smart Grid Mission website, a total of 6.4mn smart meters have been installed. And many offbeat and insufficiently connected regions in India have been covered till now.

As per Greater Kashmir, around 57000 smart meter users in Kashmir began to pay their electricity on a prepaid mode in June 2023.

Written by Zodhya

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