Sucheta Dalal :Smart meters home area networks possible within existing policies
Sucheta Dalal

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Smart meters, home area networks possible within existing policies  

November 27, 2009


Current policies and regulations in India are one of the major hindrances to have an entire smart grid system functional in the country. However, the first and third stages involved in the smart grid system can still be implemented, says an expert.
“The first stage and the third stage could be implemented in the existing framework of policies,” said Banmali Agrawala, executive director, Tata Power Co Ltd.
The first stage involved in a smart grid system is to use smart meters. Smart meters are like smart phones which have a powerful chip and a display, and are connected with a communications network. New Delhi Power Ltd (NDPL), in collaboration with Tata Power, is experimenting with the idea and has already installed ‘smart meters’ in about 500 households at the Civil Lines and Shalimar Bagh areas of New Delhi.
The second stage, the most important step in a smart grid, involves more technical involvement from the power utility like managing user data, sharing it with other entities in the grid and setting different tariffs depending on the demand and supply of electricity.
The third stage involves developing a home area network. This involves installing some devices, like wireless displays that can show current power consumption; thermostats which regulate the temperature of the supply system and interconnecting all these devices and smart appliances that can be switched on and off from a remote location.
While the first and third stage can be worked upon in the existing regulatory framework, for the second stage there is a need to review some issues. Currently, the government provides power to all households at a subsidised rate, which are uniform throughout the day and night. However, in a smart grid, there is a need to offer differential tariff slabs, for peak hour and non-peak hour usage. Due to limitations in the current regulatory framework, this is not possible.
 “I feel that we may jump from the first stage to the third stage. The first stage and third stage could be implemented, the second stage may happen as and when the policies are implemented,” said Mr Agrawala.
 “There might be certain changes that will come in within the given framework of policies; some of them, I think, will require regulatory changes. As policies change, more and more things will happen. So even within the existing constraints it is possible to encourage some amount of change,” he concluded.
Amritha Pillay [email protected]

-- Sucheta Dalal