Prepaid Digital Meters For Electricity To Be Introduced

Prepaid digital metering system is set to start introducing across the country with an aim of eliminating electricity theft, illegal connection, stopping public hassles and to ensure accountability, transparency in power distribution.

The Power Development Board (PDB) and Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) have taken the initiative to set prepaid meters for its all users which will be brought under this system over the next five years.

PDB and DPDC officials said prepaid metering system is same as prepaid mobile phone. Consumers have to pay before using electricity.

The PDB and the DPDC will set up Vending Stations across the country where customers will pay through smart card. Customers have to recharge according to their demand for electricity.

They will get that much electricity which they buy. Meters will provide a warning signal at the closing stages of recharge so that customers can recharge again. Remaining recharge money will be added the next month.

Customers will recharge card at vending station from 8am to 8pm without standing in a queue. A special software is being made so that people can use power as per their demand.

Officials said that customers will be economical using electricity through introducing prepaid meters. Power distribution boards also will not face any hurdles during realizing bill. Post system also will be eloped gradually, said officials.

It is learnt that under the DPDC prepaid metering system is being set up in capital’s Lalbagh, Basabo, Maniknogar, Bongsal, Jurain and Narayanganj. A project had been approved in this regard in the ECNEC meeting last year.

Dhaka Power Distribution Company and Bangladesh Diesel Plant Ltd signed an agreement. Around Tk 200 crore will be spent on implementing this project. Of them, KFW Bank of Germany will donate Tk 101 crore while rest of the money is being collected from government’s own fund and organization’s fund.

DPDC Executive Director Brigadier General (ret) Nazrul Hasan said 5,000 single-phase meters have already given to the customers under the project and 5,000 meter connections are being processed.

Each customer of the DPDC will be brought under the prepaid metering system within 2018. He also said single-phase meters will be given to residential customers and uses 10 KW while three-phase meters will be provided for the businessman or users more than 50 KW.

Meanwhile, the DPDC also has taken a new project to introduce prepaid meters in the capital’s five areas, including Khilgaon, Tejgaon, Kajla, Kamrangichar, and Swamibagh.

Around Tk 228 crore will be spent on implementing the project. Of them, Tk 191 crore will be collected from government own funds while the rest of Tk 37 crore will come from organization’s fund.

Under this project, the DPDC expected to give out 1, 20,000 single- phase meters and 11,000 three-phase meters among customers. The project has been sent to planning commission for approval.

“We hope that the project will get approval by September from the commission,” said Nazrul Islam, executive director of the DPDC.

Nazrul said that the prepaid meters will be given to 9 lakh customers of the DPDC by 2018.

“This will really add a new dimension to the electricity service and at a time all illegal connections will be checked to ensure transparency in this sector,” he said.

Meanwhile, addressing a function, electricity secretary Monowarul Islam said that the prepaid meters will be installed across the country stage by stage so that no one can misuse electricity illegally.

Sources said that the Awami League government, for the first time, took a plan to install prepaid meters when it assumed power in 2009. Later, two projects were taken for Comilla- Chittagong and Mymensingh areas in this regard primarily although those are yet to finish due to processing complexity. The government took excessive time to call the tender of the other projects in this regard.

However, the AL-led government has already taken new projects under the DPDC recently. After all, a total of four projects are now running to install prepaid meters under the PDB and the DPDC.

At the beginning of 2009, the project to install prepaid meters was firstly launched in the port city Chittagong with the title “Prepaid Metering project for Distribution Southern Zone Chittagong”.

A total of Tk138 crore was allotted for this project. The projects are running now very slowly although four years have already elapsed for its launching.