Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS)

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    • Recently, the government has suspended smart metre bids under its ?3.03 trillion Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) till 15 March due to multiple issues.

    Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS)

    • Aim: 
      • To help DISCOMs improve their operational efficiencies and financial sustainability.
      • It is done by providing result-linked financial assistance to DISCOMs to strengthen supply infrastructure based on:
        • Meeting pre-qualifying criteria
        • Achieving basic minimum benchmarks. 
    • Budget: 
      • The scheme has an outlay of Rs 3,03,758 Crore over 5 years i.e. FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26. 
      • The outlay includes an estimated Government Budgetary Support (GBS) of Rs 97,631 Crore.
    • Goal: 
      • Reduction of AT&C losses to pan-India levels of 12-15% by 2024-25.
      • Reduction of ACS-ARR gap to zero by 2024-25.
      • Improvement in the quality, reliability and affordability of power supply to consumers through a financially sustainable and operationally efficient distribution sector.
    • Components: 
      • Part A – Financial support for Prepaid Smart Metering & System Metering and up-gradation of the Distribution Infrastructure.
      • Part B – Training & Capacity Building and other Enabling & Supporting Activities.
    • Nodal Agencies: 
      • REC and Power Finance Corporation (PFC) have been nominated as nodal agencies for facilitating the implementation of the scheme.

    Significance 

    • The world’s largest electrical energy smart metering programme aims to switch 250 million typical meters with smart ones that won’t solely assist scale back energy theft but additionally guarantee dependable electrical energy provide. 
    • The reforms are additionally aimed toward bettering the reliability and high quality of energy provided.
    • It allows close to real-time gathering and switching of power utilisation data.
    • It will allow reductions in the AT&C losses, improve financial health,incentivise energy conservation & ensure better billing cycle.

    Issues

    • Lack of communication by some put in smart metres, 
    • Extreme time taken in integrating Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) with the legacy billing software program of state-owned distribution corporations (discoms). 
    • Interoperability issues of headend system (HES) with a number of metre producers, stalling computerised acquisition of metre information. 
    • Connections and disconnections are performed manually and never mechanically, defeating the target of avoiding human intervention. 
    • The programme is dealing with a scarcity of chips.
    • Cybersecurity risks & data privacy.

    Way Ahead

    • A smart meter structure minimises human intervention in billing and assortment, and reduces theft by figuring out loss pockets. 
    • The RDSS seems to be paving the way for this change in the power sector. 
    • There is a need to adopt a systemic deployment strategy for smart metering infrastructure.
    • Concerted efforts are required to steer the power sector into a new era of financial sustainability and operational efficiency.

    Source: LM