Ministry of Power to set up Rs 2000 Cr JV to Ease Smart Meter Rollouts

Ministry of Power has begun the process to set up a Rs 2,000 crore JV for providing a CBIF to power Discoms for faster roll-out of smart meters in the country

The Ministry of Power has begun the process to set up a Rs 2,000 crore joint venture (JV) for providing a common backend infrastructure facility (CBIF) to power distribution companies (Discoms) for faster roll-out of smart electricity meters in the country. The JV would have four promoters, NTPC Ltd, REC Ltd, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) and Power Finance Corporation (PFC). All the firms are under the administrative control of the Ministry.

The CBIF will enable the fast-track implementation of smart meters across the country. It will simplify smart meter rollout for discoms by offering a plug and play architecture with standardised, pre-configured, pre-integrated, scalable back-end infra for rollout of smart meters. There would be an ease of scalability, avoiding asset duplication and flexibility to discoms in installing smart meters in a phase wise manner, wherein the Meter Data Management (MDM) services can be expanded on the basis of requirement.

Discoms would be required to pay only for use of the asset without incurring additional capex, along with features of built-in upgrades, which would lead to cost reductions and savings to discoms.

The boards of PFC and REC have approved an equity investment of Rs 150 crore each in the JV for the CBIF, according to regulatory filings.

In a BSE filing, the PFC stated, “the Board of Directors in its meeting held on 14th September 2020 has accorded its approval for infusion of equity of Rs 150 crore in a joint venture company to be promoted jointly by NTPC, PGCIL, REC and PFC for setting up of a Common Backend Infrastructure Facility (CBIF).”

In a separate BSE filing, REC announced that its board in a meeting held on September 15 accorded its approval for infusion of Rs 150 crore as equity in the JV company for CBIF.

The boards of NTPC and PGCIL are yet to approve the equity investments of Rs 150 crore each in the joint venture.

There would be an equity investment of Rs 600 crore by the four promoters and the debt component would be of Rs 1,400 crore. The consulting arm of PFC, PFC Consulting, will facilitate the creation and the operationalisation of this joint venture company.

The CBIF will also enable centralised MIS or reporting of metering data. The facility will be offered to Discoms on software or solution as a service approach and charge only usage fees.

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