The central government on Friday launched a smart prepaid metering mobile App and Consumer Services Index of DISCOMs (power distribution companies). The Centre also launched the 10th Integrated Ratings of DISCOMs.
Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy RK Singh on Friday chaired the Review Planning and Monitoring (RPM) meeting with States and State Power Utilities.
Minister of State for Power and Heavy Industries Krishan Pal Gurjar and top officials of the Union Power Ministry and power departments of States were present at the meeting.
According to the Ministry of Power, the meeting deliberated on several issues of national importance in the power sector with underpinnings of sectoral viability and sustainability.
These included liquidation of government department electricity dues and subsidy dues; progress on prepaid Smart metering in government departments; establishing robust systems of energy accounting and subsidy accounting and timely and advance payments thereof; timely fixation of regular and true-up tariffs; timely finalisation of Utility accounts; Progress of Feeder & DT metering; progress on Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS); and compliance in regard to Electricity (Late Payment Surcharge and Related Matters) Rules, 2022.
During the meeting, Union Minister launched the 10th Integrated Rating of Power Distribution Utilities, first Consumer Service Rating of DISCOMs and the Bharat eSmart Mobile Application (BeSMA).
As a step towards enhancing consumer empowerment, a free-to-use mobile App for prepaid smart meters was also launched for the nationwide rollout of smart metering. This mobile App would build up on the data of the smart meters and would provide essential information to consumers in regard to their usage and balance of electricity remaining, both in terms of units and monetary terms. The App would enable consumers to access real-time information pertaining to their electricity usage and receive alerts and notifications.
Further, the App provides multiple options and gateways like UPI, net banking, credit and debit card etc for payment and recharge through mobile phones with ease. This mobile App is aimed at achieving consumer delight by enabling them to achieve command over their electricity usage in almost real-time, while also helping them in electricity usage as per their needs, altering consumption behaviour to achieve energy efficiency, as well as help them in lowering their bills.
This App would be available to all the Distribution Utilities free of charge once they place a requirement to the Ministry of Power. While the App is amenable to a top-level customisation as per specific utility needs, operations and maintenance for 10 years would also be free for the DISCOMs. The mobile App is built on strong security measures and is adequately equipped to protect individual data.
The Ministry said an Integrated Rating exercise is being carried out annually since 2012 with the aim of evaluating the performance of utilities on a range of parameters covering financial sustainability, performance excellence and external environment and their ability to sustain improvements year over year. The methodology for the rating has been comprehensively reviewed and revised in the current rating exercise, which is the 10th one in the series.
The rating now lays a higher emphasis on financial performance, while also assessing operational efficiencies and external ecosystem of DISCOMs. The rating will now be dynamic in nature based on triggers having impact on DISCOM financials. Private DISCOMs and State power departments have also been included for comprehensive sectoral coverage, stated the Ministry.
Taking forward the multiple reform measures centred around ensuring the best-in-class services to electricity consumers across the country, Singh also launched the first-ever Consumer Service Rating of DISCOMs (CSRD) for the FY 2020-21.
The Ministry said the report captures the current status of consumer services across various DISCOMs. It delves into key parameters of consumer services such as operational reliability, connection services, metering, billing and collection services, fault rectification and grievance redressal. The DISCOMs have been rated across various identified parameters on a seven-point scale. The intent is to enable sharing of best practices of top-performing DISCOMs as well as to help other DISCOMs in identifying critical areas for enhancing performance.
These initiatives would pave the path towards an efficient and sustainable power distribution sector, said the Union Power Ministry.