Views of Sanjay Malhotra

“We aim to provide reliable, cost-effective power”

With the current impetus to capacity addition and inclusion of renewable energy in the network, grid modernisation has become a focus point for the power sector. One state that is making significant headway in modernising its grid network is Rajasthan. At a recent workshop, “Grid Modernisation in Rajasthan”, Sanjay Malhotra, principal secretary, Energy Department, Government of Rajasthan, and CMD, Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam (RVPN), spoke about the state of the grid and the state’s initiatives in grid modernisation. Excerpts…

While transmission companies have been taking initiatives to improve the efficiency and stability of the grid, now distribution companies too are steering their way forward in this direction. Discoms have undertaken numerous measures to enhance grid management and thereby ensure uninterrupted, quality power to consumers. In this regard, the objectives of both the transmission and distribution companies seem to be aligned. They have been employing IT solutions and advanced techniques to supply reliable, 24×7 cost-effective power to consumers. Various digital measures have gained popularity in the market as well. One such concept is artificial intelligence (AI). AI has gained traction, with several organisations employing it to enhance system efficiency and minimise errors. However, IT cannot act as a substitute to skilled manpower. Utilities can buy the best machines, employ the latest technologies and modernise their grids, but the end delivery has to be carried out by the core team.

To this end, RVPN has taken a few steps. To begin with, we are working on the operations and management side. We are trying to develop a system that would provide us information and data on various grid parameters. For this, we have received financial sanctions of Rs 6 billion-Rs 7 billion, which would be utilised to build a communication backbone up to the 132 kV level. Once this is in place, we plan to move forward to the 33 kV level. This would ensure that the transmission companies have a reliable communication system. The plan is to build an optical fibre layer that would facilitate communication. Orders for this have already been placed. Once all the equipment has been integrated with the communication backbone, data will be managed through various command control centres. Data on several parameters such as frequency control and power factor will be monitored on not only a routine basis but also a per second basis to control grid operations and ensure its smooth functioning. Another project for which orders have already been placed relates to energy accounting, open access approvals and deviation settlement. The utility has not yet been able to implement measures for deviation settlement and is thus lagging behind on this front. However, the efforts are now at the final stage and the system will be put in place soon. Under this, RVPN will receive data for every 15-minute block and the parameters would be tested accordingly.

In the IT space, discoms have stepped up their efforts and awarded many tenders, most of which are at the final stage. CESC, for instance, is working on an ambitious smart metering plan in Kota. Thus, discoms are increasingly coming to the fore and contributing their bit to grid modernisation. As efforts in this space continue to multiply, there is a need to overcome one major challenge – to reduce aggregate technical and commercial losses – in order to maintain the financial health of the discoms. This would help deliver better results for not only the utility but also for consumers in terms of reduced tariffs.

There is no difference in what the government aims to deliver and what consumers demand. Our primary objective is to provide reliable and cost-effective power to consumers while making the discoms profitable. Concerted efforts in this direction are likely to deliver positive results.


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