Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is still without frequency for its smart meters project. The Authority had applied for the license 3 years ago at MoICT but still hasn’t received the Utility Frequency by NTA, vital to upgrade existing analog meters.
NEA sent the proposal for its frequency license after kick-starting the project with 92 thousand planned smart meters distribution via Ratnapark, and Maharajgunj Distribution Centers. As per Gorkhapatra, NEA has completed its first phase of Smart Meters installation. But despite attempts, Nepal Telecommunications Authority has not allocated a spectrum to it.
As per NEA’s Smart Metering Project Chief Ravindra Shrestha, the 92 smart meters are ready to work. The Authority has 5,000 in stock for possible new customers. NTA, last year sent a letter telling that it will charge on NEA as any licensed service provider and would cost Rs.20,000 per customer.
Likewise, the Ratnapark and Maharajgunj Distribution centers would pay over Rs.1.98 billion in frequency charges to NTA.
NEA has long argued it is entitled to get the frequency free of cost. This is one key reason behind the long uncertainty over the entire project thus far.
Smart Meters enable next-level capabilities for both customers and the Authority. These meters will put an end to the NEA employees visiting each house to obtain the power consumption data. Once set up, NEA can collect the customers’ power usage data at the DCU. The data then transfers through the DCU via a SIM card to NEA’s central server. For this, the digital meters integrate Radio Frequency (RF), and GPRS modules into its system.
The customers meanwhile, can better control their power usage with smart meters and obtain data through an app. NEA has started the project with the GPRS SIM Cards for smart meters.
No Smart Meters Frequency Down to Mandatory ‘Fees’
Aka Utility Frequency, NEA is seeking a license for 393 – 398.5 MHz Frequency. And despite not getting the approval, the frequency is already in use at Maharajgunj and Ratnapark Distribution Centers.
NEA’s Managing Director Kulman Ghising says such frequencies are allocated for free globally, which he meant could be an unlicensed spectrum.
“Such frequencies come for free but NTA is seeking unreasonable fees for it. It is wrong to collect revenues from an inapplicable source”, he added. Meanwhile, he asked the government to look “seriously” into the matter and make the decision.
NEA plans to install smart meters for all its 6 million customers in phases. This will cost an annual sum of over Rs 20 billion in frequency charges. But Gorkhapatra reports that the Authority only managed the operations of a dismal Rs 80 billion throughout the previous FY 077/78.
The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation are trying to find a resolve by taking the matter to the Council of Ministers.
NEA has so far, only provided smart meters to its 3-phase and ToD (Time of Day) customers. Now, the project will include households on single-phase connections too. As of now, 44 thousand customers on 3-phase connections have received the smart meter systems.
Who is at fault in your opinion, NEA, NTA, or the lack of coordination by the government to end the uncertainty? Do leave your comments below.