Come October and Ahmedabad will have probably India's first smart grid system in place where consumers will be able to pick a suitable plan for electricity consumption like they do for cellphones. Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Pvt Ltd (UGVCL) is set to roll out a modernized electric grid or the smart grid system in Naroda by October this year. Installation of new electric meters embedded with SIM cards has begun in Naroda by five companies including Reliance, Wipro, Crompton, L&T and Tapesh Energy. As many as 1,500 meters will be installed by July 15. Following the installation, a data communication network will be set up to monitor consumer behaviour.

The pilot project will study consumer behaviour of electricity usage and propose a tariff structure based on usage and load on the power utility. Eventually, it will be rolled out across the state to dis-incentivize power consumption during peak hours.

The smart grid will work on the 'time of day' concept, based on which tariffs will be set. For example, if the demand is at peak during 7pm to 11pm, the tariffs will be higher for that period.

"These five companies had shown interest in the tender floated by UGVCL. These companies will first install the new meters and then by setting up their servers will develop the data network. The companies will be required to submit consistency report based on the consumer behaviour," said Nityanand Srivastava, managing director, UGVCL.

In the last stage, based on the financial bids, one of the companies will be selected which will roll out the smart grid. UGVCL will have access to the data of the company and hence will use it to fix the tariffs based on time. "The project was to roll out in April but got delayed due to elections and we expect to start it by October," said Srivastava.

In a 50-50 partnership, UGVCL, along with the Central government, will invest Rs 48 crore in the project to set up infrastructure, meters, servers and analytic systems for smart grid. The smart grid project is being implemented in 14 cities in 14 states. The project will integrate all the electricity generated through various sources, including solar and wind, into one server system.

Like the internet, the smart grid consists of controls, computers, automation, and new technologies and equipment working in unison. These technologies work with the grid to respond digitally to the consumer's dynamic electricity demand.

Monitor and control your consumption: With the rolling out of smart grid, consumers and industries will have control on the consumption of power. It will also help in reducing power thefts as well as in energy conservation.

Like in case of mobiles, the consumers can manage their power usage in form of pre-paid and postpaid connections. Similarly, industries will be able to keep a tab on their electricity consumption and based on that adjust their machinery usage.

"Though consumers are excited but are also a bit apprehensive with the installation of new meters. They need not be afraid of higher energy bills because for the first time bill will be under their control," said Srivastava.

Srivastava further added that in case of industries, they will get hour-based data of consumption on which they can reduce or stimulate their requirements of power. "This will also help the industries improve their performance and participate in demand side management along with the power companies," added Srivastava.

Experts believe that tariff system out of smart grid project will sensitize people about energy conservation and also help them regularize power consumption.

UGVCL plans to install new meters with SIM cards in 20,000 residential and industrial units in Naroda which will analyze the consumer behaviour. The data will be collected every 15 or 30 minutes to study the consumption pattern. Similarly to study the pattern in rural areas, 18,000 points located at transformers in Deesa will be added to smart grid for the pilot project.