Kolkata: The state Power department will start installation of smart meters for the first time, as part of a pilot project in Siliguri. The installation is expected to kick off from the month of July-August.
A senior official of the state Power department said that the smart meters will be installed at 5,000 households, which will be connected to a single feeder. "We will monitor the use for a period of at least a year and then a decision will be taken on whether we will go for more such meters," the official said.
The process of integration of software and hardware and other necessary infrastructure for adopting the new technology is going on in full swing.
The smart meter is already in use at some places in the industrial and agriculture sectors.
It may be mentioned that the Central government in 2011 had selected five to six states across the country, including Bengal, for a scheme on smart meters, whereby it had allocated 50 percent funds for the project.
The tendering process took a long time because of some financial problems associated with the executing company and of course because of the advanced technology involved in the project.
Smart meters are very much effective in curbing hooking and pilferage, which has always been a matter of concern for West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL).
It also contributes in bringing down pollution and ensure uninterrupted supply of good quality power.
However, installation of smart meters entail a huge expense and the Siliguri pilot project involves an investment of more than Rs 5 crore.
Elaborating on the advantages of smart meters both from the consumer and the department's point of view, the official said that consumers will be able to automatically control electrical appliances from a remote location, while the utility company will be able to monitor electricity usage round the clock from its centralised server.
"It also allows a consumer to reduce costs by increasing energy consumption during off-peak cheaper tariff periods," the official said.
It may be mentioned that the state Power department has already checked power theft for 8,000 big industries across the state, by implementing the technology of taking reading directly on a daily basis.
The state Power department is holding talks with a number of foreign companies from countries like Japan, China, Korea, Europe and South Africa on using devices that cause less pollution in the Power sector.