Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS)

Table of Contents

Context
The Kerala government is facing trouble over the Centre’s Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS), which envisages pre-paid smart electricity meters in households and revamping the power distribution network in the country.
Background
  • The Central Government has launched the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) with an outlay of Rs. 3, 03,758 crore for the duration of 5 yearse. from (FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26).
About Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS):
  • Aim: To reduce the Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses to pan-India levels of 12-15% and Average Cost of Supply (ACS)-Average Revenue Realised (ARR) gap to zero by 2024-25.
  • The Scheme has two major components:
  • Part ‘A’ – Financial support for Prepaid Smart Metering & System Metering and upgradation of the Distribution Infrastructure and
  • Part ‘B’ – Training & Capacity Building and other Enabling & Supporting Activities.
  • Financial assistance to DISCOMs is provided for upgradation of the Distribution Infrastructure and for Prepaid Smart Consumer Metering & System Metering based on meeting pre-qualifying criteria and achieving basic minimum benchmark in reforms.
  • Schemes of Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) along with Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP)-2015 for the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir are being subsumed in this scheme to be implemented as per their extant guidelines and under their existing terms & conditions.
  • No new projects will be sanctioned under these schemes but projects already sanctioned will be eligible to receive funds up to 31st March 2022 under RDSS.
  • Implementation: The Scheme would lead to consumer empowerment by way of prepaid Smart metering to be implemented in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode and leveraging Artificial Intelligence to analyze data generated through IT/OT devices.
Significance of the scheme:
  • For DISCOMs/ Power Departments: They would be able to access funds under the Scheme for Pre-paid Smart Metering, System Metering and Distribution infrastructure works for loss reduction and modernisation.
  • The financial assistance for Distribution infrastructure works: Under the Scheme, financial assistance would be subject to meeting pre-qualifying criteria as well as upon achievement of basic minimum benchmarks by the DISCOM and evaluated on the basis of Action plans.
How scheme has worked so far?
  • So far, Sixteen (16) meetings of the Monitoring Committee of RDSS have been convened.
  • Action Plans and DPRs of 46 Discoms (28 States/UTs) have been approved where about 20.46 crores pre-paid smart consumers meters, 54 Lakh smart DT meters and 1.98 Lakh smart feeder meters have been sanctioned.
What is the issue for Kerala Government?
  • Kerala has submitted to the Centre a project of 3, 800 crore for distribution revamp and Rs.8, 200 crore for smart meters.
  • Early this year, the KSEB invited tenders for the first phase of the revamp and for 37 lakh prepaid smart meters.
  • A single agency was to be contracted for supplying, maintaining and operating the metering infrastructure.
  • However, no final decision has been taken, amid protests from the trade unions.
  • Trade unions are opposing the ‘TOTEX model’, in which a private firm installs and maintains smart meters.
  • The private agency will recover the cost incurred in installments.
  • The unions fear that the smart meter system will thus pave the way for the privatization of power distribution in the state.

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