Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bottom-up innovation: From Micro Grid in Indian villages to Smart Grid for urban Discoms

Yashraj Khaitan, Co-founder
and CEO, Grampower
Bringing electricity to rural areas that never may see the grid is a great boon to both people's quality of life and the region's economy. Smart Grid Technology or Renewable Microgrid is the topic of this discussion to improve operational and business efficiency of Indian Power Utilities.
Grampower, a energy technology company is working on addressing the electrification challenges in India. 

pManifold recently spoke to Mr. Yashraj Khaitan, Co-founder and CEO of Grampower. The company sets up energy efficient Smart Microgrids in remote areas to provide on-demand, reliable electricity to telecom towers and rural households with an affordable prepaid purchase model. He has been instrumental in raising over USD1.7 million for the company, and leads product and business development and partnership building to scale the company's operations.The below shared are the author's personal views and not to be associated with any of his company's and other associations.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Avoiding mistakes with GIS implementation in Power Distribution Utilities

Noida Power Company Ltd (NPCL), a joint venture between the RP-Sajiv Goenka Group, a leading business house in India and Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority, distributes power in Greater Noida, near Delhi in Uttar Pradesh. The Company started its operations in December 1993 under a 30-year license from U.P. Government and is among the leading companies to use GIS technology with vast experience.

pManifold team spoke to Mr. Rajiv Goyal, Head (Projects and Power Trading) and Mr. Vikas Gupta, Manager (GIS) to understand their experience in GIS implementation and the best practices adopted by NPCL. The below shared are the author's personal views and not to be associated with any of his company's and other associations.      

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Non-Revenue Water Reduction: The challenge continues to persist

Non-Revenue Water (NRW) – technical as well as commercial losses – is still perceived as a technology problem. Though asset and network rehabilitation form a substantial remedy, the approach does not take in to account the softer aspect of engaging rightly with Utility Consumers as well as its own employees.

The NRW component, we believe, can be curbed substantially, if the utility engages with the other stakeholders – customers and employees - through education and empowerment. Customer and employee engagement also brings out the tacit knowledge from the field, which acts as a feedback mechanism for the Utility. The approach also includes conducting analysis of internal customer-facing business processes, and resolving the bottlenecks hampering service delivery standards.

The table given below lists some of the interesting engagements we have shared with our clients. the rationale behind it and the methodology we adopted:

Customer perceptions tracked and studied gives strategic action items for utility plan its customer outreach programs. Customer Sensitization and talent development for Utility staff goes on to change the culture from monopolistic commodity trading to customer service provider
· Customer Opinion Preference Satisfaction (COPS) Studies offers an insight into the customer preferences and probable causes of forced behaviours
· Process Level Customer Satisfaction (PL-CSat) deployed rightly screens each of the customer satisfaction over each of the processes which act as customer touch points for utility
· Feet-on-Street (FOS) teams – like meter readers, bill distributors, plumbers, etc. – go a long way in identifying the tacit knowledge about the local systems
· Audits of customer facing processes – Collection Centres, Call Centres, Zonal Offices, etc. – provide the much missing customer perception of utility processes
· Willingness-To-Pay (WTP) studies create a sense of revenue assurance for investors and creditors alike, thereby, create baseline for financial projections of private utilities
Key issues in poor billing efficiency and collection efficiency arise due to lack of right internal processes implementation
· Process Level Audits for Meter Reading, Data Transfer Quality Monitoring and Bill Distribution bring out missing links in the billing efficiency
· Localization – eg. option of bilingual bill generation – builds the customer connect
Utility engaging with focus groups plays a vital role in customer engagement and education
· Ensuring right engagement media for consumer education and engagement
· Creating right social media handles to take utility marketing to next levels

For a deeper dive-in, refer to our previous blog on Efficient Billing & Collection Processes as key to driving NRW reduction.

IUKAN 2014: Call For Topics and Speakers

We are pleased to announce the kick off for the Annual India Utility Knowledge and Networking Conference 2014 (Proposed Dates: 12-13th February, 2014 | Venue: New Delhi). Integrating your supportive feedback and learning from last year, we plan to make this 2014 edition of IUKAN bigger and better.

We continue to focus on Power Distribution and Water Supply & Sanitation (WSS) in these 2 days conference, driving Operationalisation and reforms strengthening, bottom-up. We plan to introduce new features to increase interactions and engagement, one of them being launch of IUKAN Utility Best practices Awards.

We are happy to make the first ‘Call for Topics’ towards co-creating a strong agenda and content for this conference. Following broad thematic areas are being considered to address current challenges faced by the industry:
  • Thriving in the local Politics: Discuss challenges and best practices of engaging with Urban Local bodies, Politics, Media and Law Enforcement in the distribution area.
  • Customer Services as a Marketing Function: Discuss challenges and best practices of bringing customer centricity to processes and people of the utility and start looking upon customer services as a marketing function (channel, content, communications etc.) and not a cost-center.
  • Engaging Ground staff as Wealth Managers for driving loss reduction initiatives: Discuss challenges and best practices in managing Metering, Billing and Collection, Auditing, Vigilance and theft control to ensure commercial loss reduction.
  • Deploying Measurements, Analytics, BI and IT Systems for management and decision support: Discuss challenges and best practices of using legacy, customer, network and performance data more efficiently to improve decision making and operations.
  • Acquiring, Partnering and Managing Talent& Skills: Discuss best practices and future trends in managing employees & vendors performance for improved performance driven culture and expedited loss reduction.
  • Enhancing sustainability in Private-Participation business models: Share of real life Performance case studies of different PPP/Franchisee models, jointly by Dicoms and private Operators. Discuss how to create trust between Discom and private players to scale-up reforms.
  • What really worked in shaping major reforms with International Utilities: Discuss challenges and best practices from International utilities in developing and developed markets.
  • Faster Go-to-Market with innovations: Discuss how utility innovations could be expedited from pilot to full scale, and what supporting ecosystem (like R&D, Financing) is needed.
  • Financing Utilities and Cities: Discuss best practices through real life case studies of convergence of various utilities to build strong urban reforms for cities and their financing institutionalization.
You are invited to send in suggestions for topics that you wish to learn about and speakers from whom you would like to hear and meet at the conference. If you are an operator or solution provider in the power or water distribution space and would like to share your success story at the conference, then you can also write to us to discuss possible inclusion of it in the agenda.

You can reach us through or to discuss your ideas further.

Posted by: Isha Gupta @ pManifold

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ten twin cities to come up for Distribution Franchisee in Bihar

Bihar is one of the fastest growing States in the Country and has acquired considerable attention throughout the country and even abroad for its remarkable performance on the development front. The requirement for an enhanced Transmission and Distribution (T&D) infrastructure has ensured a firm commitment from the State Government, for transforming the present power sector scenario, in the form of assured finance through grants or various Government schemes and availability of resources in the region. 

In order to expedite the reforms process, the management of the newly formed Bihar State Power Holding Co Ltd (BSPHCL) has organized a conference to update potential private sector participants on the developments in the T&D sector and understand the expectations of Developers, EPC Contractors and Manufacturers through the conference - 'Destination Bihar: Opportunities in Bihar State’s Transmission and Distribution Sector'. The conference was organized by Feedback Infra Pvt Ltd in different cities of India with the top management of BSPHCL with the following Agenda:

Franchisee updates from Jharkhand & PESU, Expert Interviews & more - Aug, 2013 Newsletter

This is a newsletter sent to mailing list of pManifold sharing Power Distribution Franchisee industry opportunities and updates.

Some of the recent updates about the industry are mentioned below:

New Opportunities
  • Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) has floated new RFP documents for appointment of 'Rural Distribution Franchisee' on the basis of 'Collection Based Model' in its 15 sub-divisions comprising of following Area Board: Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Hazaribag. 4 sub-divisions out of 15 are same as per the earlier released tender document in Feb, 2013. The key activities for the participating bidder includes meter reading, billing, collection, minor operation and maintenance of the LT/HT network, attending fuse calls, etc. Last date of bid submission is 27th August, 2013. (Request For ProposalDistribution Franchisee Agreement and Notice Inviting Tender can be read here in details)
  • South Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd (SBPDCL) has re-initiated tenders through e-procurement mode only for selection of bidders for PESU area. Last date for request of bid document has been extended till 10th Aug, 2013 and for bid submission is 12th Aug, 2013. ('Pre-bid conference replies, RFP and Corrigendum'can be downloaded here)