Until the late 1990s electronic meters were being deployed for industrial and utility metering only, but after 2001 there was a paradigm shift in the deployment of electronic energy meters in other sectors such as the commercial, residential and agricultural environments.
Thanks to prime drivers such as APDRP (Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme) and stringent regulatory measures, the Indian electronic energy meter markets are experiencing greater volumes with innovative product features. One of the unique features of the Indian meter specifications is stringent tamperproof design. The meter design should ensure detection and recording of tamper and accurate functioning under tamper condition.
Other important emerging trends in the Indian electronic energy meter features and applications are:
• AMR/remote meter reading (RMR):
AMR/RMR is being considered asthe mainstay of online monitoring of 11kV feeders, industry and other bulk consumers of electricity. A few utilities have initiated AMR projects in commercial and consumer segments. In a way AMR is perceived as an important component in establishing an IT-based environment for computerised billing systems, CIS, OMS
• Time-of-day metering (TOD): TOD metering provides a rate (tariff) option to the consumer to reduce his electricity bills by shifting demand from peak to non-peak hours. It also benefits the utility with better load management in flattening the load curve and accomplishing demand side management.
• Energy Audit: An energy audit is one of the most important activities in identifying areas where energy conservation programmes can be effectively introduced. Analysis of energy use can be done by installing submeters at different plant locations (load centres) to pinpoint actual energy usage per area. Meters deployed for this application usually support network connectivity and provide online data to the energy audit system for further analysis and report generation.
• HVDS (High Voltage Distribution System): HVDS helps to reduce technical losses, eliminating energy pilferage and improving consumer privacy. Some pilot projects are underway by installing a group of split meters and reading them either through AMR or by a meter reader with the necessary equipment. In a split meter, the metering element and the electronics are installed on a pole, and a user interface providing the consumption information is installed in the consumer’s premises. Both the metering element and user interface are connected via a data link.
• Spot Billing: In this scheme, the meter reader is equipped with a meter-reading instrument (MRI) coupled to a mini printer. Once the meter reading is entered in the MRI, consumption is calculated automatically, a bill is printed and handed over on the spot to the consumer. At the end of the day the MRI uploads the consumption and billing data to the corporate billing systems for consolidation and revenue management. In this manner much time can be saved by the utilities.
To effectively serve the applications mentioned above, the design features of the meters call for high computational capabilities, large memory capacity, rugged software algorithms and a highly configurable application environment. Thanks to state-of-the-art semiconductor technology, and the friendly trade environment created by the Indian government, meters in India are being produced with internationally recognised ASICs, SOCs, DSPs and Micros. In addition the growth in demand has made a reduction of almost 50% in the price of electronic energy meters possible.