Schneider Electric, 8 others vie for India’s second-largest smart meter order

The 2.35 million EESL tender comes in backdrop of previously awarded contract cancellation to Indonesia-based PT Hexing following concerns over its failure to meet local manufacturing criteria

Schneider Electric, Genus Power Infrastructures and HPL Electric and Power are among the nine firms in the fray for a 2.35 million smart electricity meter order floated by state-run Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), said two people aware of the development.

India’s second-largest smart meters’ contract comes in the backdrop of cancellation of a previous contract awarded to Indonesia-based PT Hexing following concerns over its failure to meet local manufacturing criteria.

The others vying for the marque order are – Avon Meters, Linkwell Telesystems, Zen Meter, and Allied Engineering Works.

India is rolling out the world’s largest electricity smart metering programme which has attracted the likes of Canada’s largest pension fund manager Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) as reported by Mint earlier.

“The above tender is still under process and active,” said a EESL spokesperson in an emailed response.

India aims to replace 250 million conventional meters with smart meters, that also hold the key to its electricity distribution reforms by checking thefts and improving electricity distribution companies (discoms) operational efficiencies.

A Schneider Electric spokesperson declined to comment.

Genus Power Infrastructures Ltd, HPL Electric and Power Ltd., Avon Meters, Zen Meter, and Allied Engineering Works didn’t respond to queries emailed on Friday. Linkwell Telesystems’ spokesperson couldn’t be contacted.

Creating a smart meter architecture minimises human intervention in metering, billing and collection process and helps in reducing theft by identifying loss pockets. It requires a two-way communication network, control centre equipment and software applications that enable near real-time gathering and transfer of energy usage information.

“Post the cancellation of PT Hexing contract, there was this immediate gap that had to be met and hence this tender,” said a person aware of the development requesting anonymity.

EESL had awarded the contract to a consortium led by PT. Hexing Technology and comprising of Pal Mohan Electronics Pvt. Ltd., and Hangzhou-headquartered Hexing Electrical Co Ltd. The contract cancellation came in the wake of the Centre’s decision to restrict firms from countries with a shared land border from participating in bids for procurement, without approval from authorities. Also, India’s new public procurement rulebook calls for giving compulsory purchase preference to local suppliers.

India has firmed up a series of economic responses against China, following border tensions that remain unresolved. EESL, is a joint venture set up by NTPC Ltd, Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd, Power Finance Corp. Ltd (PFC) and Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd.

The EESL spokesperson, however, said the current tender was not in lieu of the cancelled PT Hexing’ contract, adding that “The tendering process is part of our ongoing business cycle that is mapped to the vertical’s business plan.”

India’s largest smart meter order floated till date has also been from EESL for 5 million units, post which a letter of award has been issued. Testing is underway for this smart meter order based on Narrow Band-Internet of Things (NB-IoT).

NB-IoT is a low-power wide-area network radio technology standard developed by 3GPP, a standards organization, to enable a wide range of cellular devices and services.

EESL and IntelliSmart — its joint venture with India’ quasi sovereign wealth fund National Investments and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has been present in India’ smart meter programme space and has a current order book of around 7.78 million smart meters. Of this around 1.5 million smart meters have been installed and 2 million have been supplied to New Delhi Municipal Council, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Andaman and Nicobar.

The country’ smart meter programme has also been garnering interest from large corporates such as Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), that plans to leverage its Jio business to offer meter data collection, communication cards, telecom and cloud hosting services to discoms. Also, French government-owned power utility Electricite de France SA (EDF) has been involved in for putting up five million smart meters.

About Schneider Electric

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