KSEB to implement prepaid smart meters under capex model

Thiruvananthapuram: The prepaid smart meter project, which was inordinately delayed, has received the Centre’s nod for implementation under the CAPEX (capital expenditure) model as demanded by various trade unions. The KSEB had planned to install smart meters in the TOTEX (total expenditure) model. However, the chief minister’s intervention has forced the power board to implement it under the public sector. Now, consumers will have to pay Rs 60 extra instead of Rs 200-300 under the TOTEX model in their bi-monthly electricity bill. The KSEB management revised its plan following criticism from all trade unions, including the CITU. The power department earlier stuck to its stand of executing the project under the TOTEX model even though the board would get only 7.5% subsidy from the Centre’s Restructured Distribution Area Scheme. However, under the CAPEX model, the KSEB will get the full 15% subsidy from the Centre. It is alleged that the power department was unnecessarily lobbying for the totex model, which would have put a financial burden on consumers. S Harilal, general secretary of the KSEB Workers Association (CITU), told TNIE that it has been decided to build 3 lakh meters at a total cost of Rs 750 crore under the capex model. ‘Officials delaying the launch of tender applications’ “Earlier, the power department was showing haste in developing the prepaid smart meter project under the totex model. But now that it has been changed to the capex model, in which the consumer will have to spend only Rs 60 in a bi-monthly bill, the officials are excessively delaying the launch of tender applications. Under the totex model, the consumer will have to spend Rs 200-300 in a bi-monthly bill. Also, the equipment will become obsolete within seven years,” Harilal said. A top official of the power department said that power minister K Krishnankutty had constituted an external technical committee to finalise the way forward with the tender process. “There is no delay from the minister’s office. Now the responsibility lies with KSEB to start the tender process after the technical committee gives its advice,” said a top official of the power department. It is reliably learnt that KSEB is keen to implement the first phase of the project by April 2025. A senior official of the board told TNIE that KSEB chairman and managing director Biju Prabhakar has sought two months’ time to study the project in detail.

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