The Power Ministry has begun the process to set up a Rs 2,000 crore joint venture for providing a common backend infrastructure facility (CBIF) to power distribution companies (discoms) for faster roll-out of smart electricity metres in the country. The joint venture would have four promoters, NTPC Ltd, REC Ltd, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) and Power Finance Corporation (PFC). These firms are under the administrative control of the Ministry of Power. The boards of PFC and REC have approved equity investment of Rs 150 crore each in the joint venture 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 equity investment of Rs 600 crore by the four promoters and the debt component would be of Rs 1,400 crore. 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 standardized, 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 CBIF will also enable centralized MIS or reporting of metering data. The facility will be offered to discoms on a software or solution as a service approach and charge only usage fees.
The consulting arm of PFC, PFC Consulting, will facilitate the creation and the operationalisation of this joint venture company.