Smart Meters in Gujarat: Controversy and Protests

News: Residents of Vadodara have protested against pre-paid smart electricity meters & demanded the reinstallation of old meters. Protests spread to Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Anand, and Godhra. The installation of prepaid smart meters across Gujarat is part of the 2021 government notification of the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) for the state’s power sector.

About Smart Meters

• Unlike conventional meters, Smart meters can “communicate” data. They track energy consumption every 30 minutes and send updates to the consumer’s smartphone and the distribution company.
• Both (Conventional & smart meters) use the same algorithms; therefore, smart meters will not affect one’s monthly tariff if consumption does not change.
• Alert discoms in emergencies (e.g., overheating, power failure).
• Discoms can disconnect/reconnect remotely and track power quality.
• They are bi-directional, so consumers generating solar power at home do not need a new meter. People’s Complaints
• Residents claimed overcharging daily since installation.
• Frequent power disruptions were reported when the balance went negative after Rs 300.
• No choice was given during installation. Threatened with a Rs 10,000 penalty for installation delays.
• Problems for non-smartphone users.

Steps taken

• The installation has now been put on hold. Gujarat’s four discoms decided to install check meters (old meters) alongside smart meters in government offices.
• Consumers will be invited to see the functioning of these meters. This is to dispel misinformation and win back consumer confidence.

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