Smart meters in rural India are a win-win solution for all

(Responsible business, 25 Oct 2018) Energy systems are becoming increasingly digitalized in the world. But high-tech power applications have so far largely bypassed rural areas in developing Asia, where electricity consumers continue to suffer intermittent supply, aging devices, poor maintenance and services, high system losses, and increasing power costs.

That’s why ADB decided to support a $200 million loan for Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) to implement various demand-side energy efficiency projects in India. One of the pilot projects has recently been completed in Gangapur, a rural village in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, where EEESL installed smart meters with satellite communication technology in about 5,000 households and ADB is considering scaling up through a proposed second loan.

We have observed that smart meters bring benefits to four key stakeholders.

First, each rural consumer enjoys improved power quality, shorter outage durations, and flexible payment options (pre-paid or post-paid). Smart meters also provide real-time information about the electricity usage through a mobile app, so consumers can detect any wastage and optimize electricity consumption to save money.

In India, smart meters bring benefits to 4 key stakeholders

Smart meters likewise prepare rural households ready for the distributed and decarbonized future of energy systems. When more rural households install distributed solar photovoltaic panels on their rooftops, smart meters can be used as “net metering”, i.e. surplus solar power is transferred to the grid, allowing customers to offset the electricity bills.

Finally, smart meters can also be used for time-of-use tariffs (different pricing periods during the day and night)  so consumers perform “demand response” vs. the different tariff levels to reduce their energy usage when electricity prices are higher.

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Responsible business, 25 Oct 2018: Smart meters in rural India are a win-win solution for all