The Andhra Pradesh government, as part of the power sector reforms initiated by the Centre, has proposed to affix “smart meters” to all agricultural connections.
The new meters will record data on electricity consumption every 15 minutes, and the government will credit the farmer’s bank account with the amount of the bill. The farmer can then pay the bill to the relevant power distribution company (discom).
While the free power supply for nine hours will continue, albeit after being routed through a direct bank transfer (DBT), farmers are apprehensive that the government will make them pay for the installation of the new meters. The farmers are also doubtful whether they will receive the electricity bill DBT without any hiccups or conditions.
Farmers unions supported by the Left and the Congress have staged demonstrations at a few places in the state opposing the new meters.
The government wants to understand exactly how much power is consumed by the farm sector.
At present, the government pays a fixed sum to the discoms for free power supply to farmers. But discoms often complain that they are in losses due to the subsidy given to the farm sector without any clarity on how much power is being used.
The new meters planned by the government will generate electricity bills, which the government will credit to the farmer’s bank account, after which the farmer will be able to pay the bill.
While this will clear the accounts of the discoms, with the installation of the smart meters, the load on transformers can be determined, and substations can adjust to the requirements.
According to Ajeya Kallam, Principal Advisor to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, the supply of electricity can be tracked by installing meters to motors, and any problems identified in the supply of electricity can be rectified. Fixing the meters will ensure future short circuits and damage in transformers can be prevented. The discoms will set up the meters, switches, and earth wires.