Grinpal Energy Management, the energy-producing arm of Saab Grintek, has begun deploying smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure in New Delhi, India. Saab Grintek is a technology firm headquartered out of South Africa.
Saab Grintek is a diverse technology firm specializing in enterprise solutions, energy management, aviation systems, communications intelligence, and global connectivity. The company has developed partnerships with governments and other organizations throughout Africa and the world.
The first deployment began in the Tata area, where Grinpal hopes to have 500,000 installations complete by 2010. Phumudzo Magidi, Managing Director for Grinpal, says it has taken some time to familiarize Indian power distributors with the prepaid smart meter system that his company is introducing. This education process has taken nearly two years.
“Negotiations started in 2005, and the agreement was signed in November 2006 with the final contract agreed upon in December 2007. The Indian government needed clarity on the prepaid system because India uses the post paid meter system; Grinpal had to introduce the system from the beginning and also prove that the system will enable India to manage their energy wisely,” Magidi said.
The new smart meters will provide Indian consumers with information regarding energy consumption that was not previously available with a traditional meter. The prepayment system will allow the easy disconnection of defaulted customers and power connections from a remote site. The new smart system is also able to instantly detect tampering with the power lines and sends signals to security personnel if necessary. Utility employees will also have the ability to change a customer’s billing method from pre paid to post paid in a matter of seconds, without having to physically visit the meter.
The new smart grid will also give Indian power providers with load managing options. Hot water can be turned off for a single ratepayer or for an entire community or hard limits can be placed for individual consumers or consumer groups. Sometimes these limits are necessary in Indian communities where extremely rapid development has occurred and the local power grid cannot keep up with aggregate demand for power.
“The smart metering system comes with a load limiter. This mechanism sends a command to every energy user to reduce electricity usage when the demand for energy gets out of control,” explains Magidi.
The new smart system helps protect Indian consumers from power shutoffs by sending text messages to a cell phone or the in-home display on the smart meter. The smart meter makes a buzzing sound to let a ratepayer know that the utility company has sent a message. This same process will be used to notify consumers that some drastic load shedding or a power outage is scheduled.
Grinpal has targeted the whole of India and the entire Middle East as potential customers for this new smart meter system. At the same time, the company is targeting its home country for an increased customer base. South Africa is another country where load balancing and scheduled power outages are commonplace.
“We are looking at having a long term relationship with India and other parts of the world because we believe that this system will help curb the energy crisis that is currently being faced by a lot of countries,” Magidi added.
In the joint Indian effort, Indian firm EMCO will perform the smart meter installation, while Grinpal supplies technological support. “We will be working closely with EMCO to ensure that everything goes according to plan. It was also important for us to partner with a local company and ensure that the services provided are of high quality because our plan is to grow our market size in the Indian republic with this new energy saving and revenue protection mechanism,” said Magidi.
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