Smart meters the best way to tackle power theft menace

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Smart meters the best way to tackle power theft menace

Electricity thefts, besides causing a drain on the power departments’ finances and affecting the quality of power supply, are also responsible for increasing the tariff burden on an average consumer. Installation of smart meters is the best way of checking this criminal practice and the Government is doing well to digitalise the existing power infrastructure in the country.

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Electricity theft is the criminal practice of stealing electrical power by tampering with electricity meters or by tapping into the grid by wire or any other means. It is an illegal practice which is punishable under the Indian Electricity Act, 1948. The Act enables the electricity department to lodge an FIR against the defaulter and letting the court decide the penalty to be imposed or duration of the jail term.

Electricity theft can be committed by various ways, the most common being tampering with the electricity meters. It is done by breaking the seal of the meter, reversing or stopping the mechanical disk from moving, or altering the actual reading. The reading can also be altered by connecting the meter directly to the fuse and preventing it from recording energy consumption.

  • The Indian Electricity Act, 1948, enables the electricity department to lodge an FIR against the defaulter and letting the court decide the penalty to be imposed or duration of the jail term.
  • Electricity boards suffer massive losses due to electricity thefts. These losses not only affect quality of power supply or increase load on generating station, they also impact tariff for genuine consumers.
  • The most significant solution to power thefts is installation of smart meters. These are the devices based IoT that record consumption and send the information back to the utility on a real-time basis.
  • Under the National Smart Grid Mission, the Government is planning to convert every grid in the country into a smart grid and also interconnect every grid to function as a single unit.

Another way of executing an electricity theft is by illegal tapping of underground cables. In case of transformers, the overhead lines are tapped on the side of low voltage of the transformer. At times, the electricity sanctioned for residential purpose is used for commercial purposes. This too amounts to electricity theft.

Each year, electricity boards suffer massive losses due to electricity thefts, which are quite prevalent in the country. These losses not only affect the quality of power supply or increase load on the generating station, they also affect the tariff imposed on genuine consumers. It is a tough task for the power utilities to detect the instances of power thefts and punish those responsible for these criminal acts.

The most significant solution to power thefts is installation of smart meters. These are the devices based on Internet of Things (IoT) that record consumption and send the information back to the utility on a real-time basis. Smart meters can also detect any tampering done at the power-receiving end and send real-time notification to the utility in case any anomaly is detected.

To prevent the massive losses incurred by electricity departments due to power thefts, the Government is planning to fully digitalise the existing infrastructure in the country. Under the National Smart Grid Mission, it is planning to convert every grid in the country into a smart grid and also interconnect every grid to function as a single unit.

Once it’s done, the complete digitalisation of power infrastructure will not only result in saving money for the utilities by detecting electricity thefts, it will also check overloading of the system and make power outages a thing of the past.

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