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State-run power distribution utilities are increasingly turning to their private counterparts for advice on trimming their losses and improving supplies, with the result that Tata Power Delhi and the two BSES distribution companies run by Reliance Infrastructure in Delhi have even created separate wings to cater to this demand.
Distribution arms of Tata Power, Reliance Infrastructure, Torrent and Essel group are receiving teams from state-controlled utilities to study their operations and management, officials said.
According to estimates, state-run utilities have accumulated losses of Rs 2 lakh crore, which explains the urgency to cut down losses, said a state utility official who has been closely interacting with private distribution companies.
"Private distribution companies have liberally invested in technologies to reduce their losses and improve services. It may not be possible for state utilities to make new investments due to accumulated losses but we can certainly curb power theft, reduce outages and improve our billing systems to reduce losses," said a state utility official, who did not wish to be identified.
BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna, which distribute electricity to 34 lakh consumers in Delhi, have received teams from state utilities of Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, J&K, Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya in the past few months. Their consultancy departments are providing services to Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam under a three-year agreement.
"All state discoms have questions related to key challenges faced and overcome by BSES companies," said a BSES official. "Many of the queries are on the design, implementation and IT enablement of BSES' business processes.
One of their main queries is on the initiatives taken by BSES discoms for reduction of losses." Reliance Infrastructure's group company that distributes electricity in Mumbai hasalso received officials of state-run utilities from Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Haryana Essel Utilities, a relatively new entrant in distribution that has been awarded rights to distribute electricity in Nagpur to close to 4.5 lakh consumers for 15 years, received visitors from Jaipur Vidyut Vitaran and Ajmer Vidyut Vitaran of Rajasthan recently.
"We reduced technical and commercial losses from 32% to 16% in just 24 months and reduced complaints from consumers by almost one third in a short period. Today, we are resolving 95% of the consumer complaints in less than two hours and reduced number of transformer failures from 166 a year to just seven incidents in a year," said Sonal Khurana, business head of Essel Utilities' distribution arm for Nagpur. Such rapid improvement in quality of operations and reduction in losses among private distributors is the key attraction for state utilities that are lining up for advice.
"We have received officials from Punjab, J&K, Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat and Karnataka in the past 18 months as they are interested in understanding our programmes for reducing commercial losses and automation to improve reliability of electricity supply,"said Praveer Sinha, CEO and executive director of Tata Power Delhi, which is providing consulting services to utilities of UP, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Manipur besides Nigeria. Officials from state-run distribution companies are also keen to understand Tata Power Delhi's billing process and customer relationship management to improve their collection, Sinha said. The company is in advanced stage of discussions with utilities of Goa to provide consulting services.
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