ISLAMABAD: The Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) has granted permission for launching a pilot project in collaboration with three players to install devices on 250 transformers dealing with 25,000 customers to detect electricity theft.
PESCO has been facing line losses of 54 percent, one of the highest ratios among all the power distribution companies (DISCOs) in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s cash bleeding power sector has been facing numerous difficulties and one of them was rampant line losses and electricity theft in connivance with employees. The government has been exploring options for introduction of smart meters even with loans from multilateral creditor to the tune of $900 million to overcome this persistent loss.
The pilot project would be implemented into electricity feeder of Karkhano Market in Peshawar that has theft ratio of more than 54 percent. The GSMA would provide funding of £200,000, while the digital solution would be presented by Jazz.
The GSMA selected Jazz for their “Energy and Line Losses Reduction in Pakistan” idea in collaboration with Centre for Intelligent Systems and Network Research (CISNR), and PESCO, which uses digital solutions developed by their partner, CISNR, to address the line losses and electricity theft.
“This pilot project would be implemented in the area that has 25,000 consumers, but the cost of monitoring electricity thefts under this solution was far less than the smart metering solution presented,” Dr Gul Mohammad said.
Pakistan has requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for loan of $900 million for installing smart meters in three to four DISCOs under the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) programme.
Dr Gul Mohammad said they were considering forming a consortium to participate in the bidding process of this upcoming AMI project funded by ADB, as it required securing projects worth $80 million. “So, the only solution was to establish a consortium to become eligible for this AMI project,” he added.
The new solution presented by CISNR works on the basis of installing smart electronic devices at various stages of electricity supply chain. The monitoring offices would detect the quantity of electricity consumption from meters and electricity supplied to that area.
As the imbalance between the supply and consumption gets detected, the relevant electricity company could further narrow down to catch the power thieves.
Jazz Chief Commercial Officer Ali Naseer said the role of the cellular company in this project would be to provide state of the art digital solutions, and eventually the role of mobile sets could not be ruled out.
“We have developed the app where the consumer can check their electricity consumption on their mobile phone sets, but it will not be implemented in the pilot project,” he said, adding that mobile-based solutions have already been implemented with several public sector departments.
GSMA’s Max Cuveller, who had come from London to participate in the launch of the pilot project, said they were involved in social projects in more than 50 countries worldwide. He said the interest in this project was increasing as they received around 482 applications in 2017-18 and selected 19 projects including JAZZ and CISNR to overcome line losses and power theft in Peshawar with the help of innovation and technology.
He said they were providing technical assistance and grant money obtained from UL-based DFID to promote technology in different parts of the world.