BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL), Delhi’s private power distribution utility, has adopted a number of IT initiatives since its inception in 2002. The utility started with a small IT team, elementary-level infrastructure, and inadequate billing and customer care processes. Today, it has about 150 people in its IT department, working on metering, billing collection, infrastructure, geographic information system (GIS) as well as new initiatives such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and smart grids. In the past 14 years, BYPL has engaged user teams to build a technology-intensive culture, planned the implementation of enterprise-wide applications and imparted appropriate IT training to end users.
In terms of the key technologies being used, BYPL is implementing IBM Lotus Notes across the company for internal and external communication. At the foundation level, BYPL opted for SAP as the base and the SCADA system from ABB. Its 33 kV and 66 kV substations are managed by SCADA. Since 2008, BYPL has also implemented its in-house outage management system. This system has been upgraded a number of times. On the mobility front, the company has deployed multiple applications such as meter reading, consumer applications and internal breakdown alignment applications, most of which are GPRS based.
The discom has taken several digitalisation initiatives. Customers can now connect with the discom to apply for a new connection and register complaints through mobile apps, the company website and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The discom has integrated many of these platforms with its existing customer relationship management (CRM) tools to enhance the customer experience.
BYPL is incorporating IT in the complete metering, billing and collection cycle with the help of multiple applications. At the base level, billing is done on the SAP–ISU platform. SAP-ISU is a central application built for the purpose of billing, which went live in 2009. Prior to SAP-ISU, legacy applications were used. To ensure accurate meter reading, the company downloads meter readings from meters through an optical port. At present, BYPL’s download efficiency is around 99 per cent. At BYPL, meter reading is carried out through a common meter reading instrument, which is GPRS based. The meter readings are directly sent to the central billing system, eliminating manual intervention in the meter reading process. After this, pre-audit and post-audit checks are conducted.
For payments, BYPL has moved towards the electronic bill payment facility. The company provides multiple payment options like cash counters, cheque by post, ITZ Cash, net banking, kiosks, drop box facility, auto debit payment and mobile apps with a payment facility. BYPL has also introduced online advance payment, my account, WAP and payment confirmation through email, and push- and pull-based SMS service. At present, digital collections account for 53 per cent of the total payments received by BYPL.
BYPL’s advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) implementation journey started three years ago. However, AMI technology is still to attain maturity both at the meter and the communication level. Hence, the discom has adopted a slow and steady road-mapping exercise. Initially, the discom had conducted a lot of pilots with radio frequency (RF) mesh technology. The utility has also undertaken RF-retrofit pilot projects, prepaid smart metering and group metering projects with Genus.
BYPL is now focusing more on workforce management systems and smart grids, in addition to areas such as load forecasting, distribution management system, automated demand response, CRM, supplier relationship management and meter data management. Further, the discom is working on transformer monitoring, for which sensors have been deployed in transformers to measure plug temperatures, oil temperatures and oil levels. The information is sent to the SCADA centre and the monitoring team. BYPL is also working on data management software (DMS). The organisation has been divided into 14 divisions for the purpose of implementation of DMS, which has already been implemented in one of the divisions. Going forward, the discom is looking at data analytics to gain insights into consumers’ payment behaviour and consumption patterns.
In light of all the planned initiatives, BYPL seems well positioned to strengthen its metering, billing and collection capabilities, capitalise on the new opportunities created by the digital revolution, and efficiently meet end-user expectations.