New Delhi: Power outages in the capital city at the peak of summer have highlighted the cracks in the regulated electricity sector, but responses from the government and the utilities so far remains limited to accusations and explanations. Now, consumer behaviour, which apparently adds to avoidable load on the network, has come under criticism.

Delhi power minister Satyendra Jain had on 14 June threatened “strong action” against Reliance Infrastructure Ltd-owned private utilities for the “unprecedented power outages,” in a letter to Reliance Group chairman Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, blaming company managers and engineers for the power outages.

State-owned transmission company Delhi Transco Ltd (DTL), however, on Thursday blamed rising electricity consumption and lack of proper maintenance for the situation.

DTL stated that it was committed to providing uninterrupted power supply but “the ever increasing demand and limitation of resources can for sometimes affect the supply.” It said peak consumption had gone up to 6,260 megawatt (MW), from 5,846 MW a year ago. From 2008 levels, consumption has gone up by 55%. Mumbai’s power demand accounts for only 59% of Delhi’s demand.

DTL advised consumers to shift non-essential load to non-peak hours and to use energy-efficient appliances. The company also said its ability to expand network for future and to carry out day to day maintenance was affected because of Rs.2,000 crore of dues owed by private utilities BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd

Utilities including BSES and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Company on the other hand, are reeling under power supply costs that are not yet allowed to be passed on to consumers, called regulatory assets, running up to Rs.36,000 crore, impairing their ability to make fresh investments in infrastructure.

A spokesperson for BSES stated on Thursday the two BSES utilities were under huge financial stress due to non-liquidation of regulatory assets estimated to be over Rs.16,000 crore as of 31 March 2016 and that the distribution companies were making “concerted efforts to address the situation and clear pending dues in a just and equitable manner.”

“The electricity value chain is like a delicately balanced pack of cards. All stake holders have to be stable. The distribution sector has been in poor financial health for a long time because electricity demand has gone up whereas tariff has not gone up accordingly,” said Kalpana Jain, senior director, Deloitte in India.[LIVEMINT]

Power pilferage has been an issue in the City for years. But the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (Bescom) says it has been able to arrest this menace in recent years by a stress on public awareness.

A Bescom Vigilance Department official told Deccan Herald that in the month of May 2016, the team booked 138 cognizable cases and collected Rs 104.23 lakh as penalty. They also booked 191 non- cognizable cases and collected Rs 181.02 lakh penalty. Of this, the Bengaluru division alone booked 13 cognizable and 157 non-cognizable cases.

The maximum non-cognizable cases were booked in Malleswaram (94) followed by Rajajinagar (58), three in Jayanagar and two in Indiranagar.

Last month, a major case of stealing power by bypassing the meter was reported in Whitefield. This was worth Rs 26 lakh and the culprit was a private mobile tower company. Two months back, a penalty f Rs 30 lakh was imposed on a violator, who had drawn power, claiming industrial usage. But it was found to be used for a chowltry in Nagawara.

During the financial year 2015-16, a total of 1,953 cognizable and 1,414 non-cognizable cases were booked against offenders across all Bescom divisions. The maximum number of cognizable cases were booked in July 2015 (295), followed by June 2015 (239) and August 2015 (176).

The maximum number of non-cognizable cases booked were in September 2015 (182), followed by October 2015 (157) and August 2015 (138).

According to vigilance officials, most cases in Bengaluru are related to power misuse than power theft. In most cases, consumers take the connection citing domestic usage, but run a commercial unit, like in Koramanagala or Malleswaram.

 Some take connection stating industrial usage, but run commercial complexes. There are also cases where meters are tampered with. However, cases of hooking lines such as those often reported from North Indian cities are rare here, because of increased awareness and daily vigilance, the official claims.

The average monthly target of Bescom Vigilance Wing is Rs 2 crore and on an average, Rs 1.2 crore is collected. Power theft and misuse cases amount to just 2% of total supply. Transmission and distribution loses amount to 7-8%.

At other Bescom limits, most power theft cases are reported from irrigation projects and borewell connections. In Bengaluru city, cases of power misuse are more, where water and power are scarce.

Apart from undertaking daily inspections, the department also conducts monthly energy audits where each transformer readings are analysed with monthly consumer readings.

Taking the difference and increase in usage over a period of two months, the vigilance team pins down the offenders. Consumers are the major informants. On an average, Bescom receives 50- 60 complaints, of which around 50% turn out to be fake, the official informs.[DECCAN HERALD]

The respect for �uniforms� helps group of 6 steal a transformer.

The authority of fake khaki uniforms copied from the Maharashtra State Electricity Board helped a group of thieves to efficiently dismantle a live transformer in a village in Virar, and make off with the booty.

The ‘team’ came equipped with a heavy duty crane to expedite the operation, and being aware of the 120 KVA transformer being live and functional, cut the power supply before getting down to work.

To curious residents, one of the six members of the group introduced himself as a Junior Officer of the MSEB.

The operation began on Tuesday afternoon at around 2.30 p.m., when the men in MSEB ‘uniform’ arrived at Khandanwadi village on the Umbergaothan-Navapur road in Agashi, Virar.

Some residents of the area wanted to know what was going on, to which the thieves confidently replied that the MSEB had a big plan to replace old transformers with new ones.

The theft thereafter proceeded smoothly with no interference from anyone, and the transformer was hauled off in a van. In the evening, though, the villagers discovered that no replacement was coming. They then called the MSEB to ask about the plan for a new transformer, since it was growing dark. The truth was then revealed to both sides.

MSEB officials in charge of Virar rushed to the spot to find their transformer missing and houses in darkness. They filed a complaint of theft under Section 379 of the IPC against unknown persons.

Harihar Gothwad, Additional Executive Engineer, MSEB, Vasai confirmed the incident, but said the officials “immediately made alternative power arrangements for the consumers.”

Power transformers have copper coils and oil that fetch a good amount in the scrap market.

A new transformer costs around Rs. 2 lakh.

In a similar incident in Virar in 2015, two people clad in MSEB uniforms had made off with copper wires and oil from a transformer in Virar East. They are yet to be arrested.[THE HINDU]

Student sentenced to 11 years in prison for electricity theft

A 23 year old Gutu man studying electrical engineering at Kwekwe Polytechnical College was recently slapped with an eleven year jail term for illegally connecting electricity directly to his father's shop at Chihambakwe business centre in Gutu.

Gideon Gweshengwe (23) was charged for contravening Section 60 A (1) (a) of the Electricity Act chapter 13:19 for abstracting and diverting electricity.

The court heard that the college student unlawfully connected electricity at Chengetai Investment Stores in at Chihambakwe business centre from January to May 20.

The offence was discovered by a Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) liaison officer who reported to the police, leading to the suspect's arrest.

Gweshengwe pleaded guilty before Gutu Resident Magistrate Edwin Marecha and begged for mercy saying he was still a student and was ready to pay the outstanding bill.

"I am sorry your worship, if you may forgive me and let me pay the outstanding bill. I connected electricity because when ZESA people came in January in Chihambakwe, they only connected for our neighbor despite the fact that we had also paid the connection fee and called the same day.

"I was hurt seeing how these people are corrupt and decided to connect for myself since I learnt the skill at school," Gweshengwe said.

Marecha sentenced the 23 year old to eleven 11years saying there is nothing the court would do to lessen the sentence since such offenses were already recorded.

Marecha however suspended 1 year on condition that Gweshengwe pays US$1 684 to ZESA by November 30 2016 failure of which he will serve the whole 11 years.

Millicent Azangwe

Kolkata, July 12 (KNN) Transmission and distribution (T&D) losses is one major menace which SMEs and even the large industrial units have to unfortunately pay for.

In an attempt to reduce the T&D losses incurred by the power distribution companies in Bengal, West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) recently signed an MoU with Korean power company, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), to conduct a feasibility study as an attempt to analyze the causes and measures to check the same.

KEPCO is expected to carry out a research on the distribution facilities in the state and then inform WBERC of the results, including the actual reasons for the losses which will help designing the appropriate  measures to counter the same.

Talking to KNN about the repercussions of the huge T&D losses on MSMEs, Anil Aggarwal, Managing Director, PME Power Solutions, said, “As per the World Resources Institute, average electricity T&D losses in India tend to be more than  27 percent - the highest in the world.”

The entrepreneur said that half of this loss is due to technical glitches and usage of fault, inappropriate and inefficient equipment and the other half is lost to pilferage or accounts to the free or subsidized electricity for  farmers.

Now any such loss is obviously transferred to the consumers be it household consumers or the SMEs or the big corporates, he added.

“All these losses are ultimately bound to be covered by other non-subsidized and legitimate consumers too. Especially the SMEs being the hard core manufacturing base become the most affected victims of the same. They due to such a huge loss are unable to get electricity at competitive prices hence leading to their ouster from international competition,” Aggarwal, who is also the Senior President at industry body FISME, said.

“To curb this menace levelled against our SMEs there needs to be stringent regulations mandating the use of energy efficient equipment, reduction of the line lengths and correct installation of all the equipment etc. All this is definitely not an overnight affair perhaps, all these  technical intricacies if attentively taken care of can immensely help overcome the issue,” the expert opined

However , Agarwal sounded apprehensive about the outcome of the study to be conducted by KEPCO and is of the view that such studies could well be conducted by the Indian entities who would definitely have a better knowhow about the situation prevailing in the state  specifically and  in  India as a whole. (KNN/ GK)