A full-day workshop on IEC 62056 DLMS/COSEM was held by the DLMS UA on the 17th February 2009 in New Delhi, followed by a two-day conference on Automated Metering Infrastructures. The central themes of these events were interoperability and the meter data exchange standard to be adopted by India. Some 200 delegates representing the Indian industry and neighbouring countries have participated. The importance of the event has been highlighted by the presence of high-ranking government officials.

The event was organised by the Central Board of Irrigation and Power, an engineering / scientific NGO in India, active in the fields of water and energy. Its actuality is given by the Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme II (APDRP-II) launched by the Government of India. This is an ambitious programme aiming at the modernisation of the distribution network and to improve the profitability of State-owned Electricity Boards (SEBs). The objectives of APDRP-II were highlighted by the Honorable Minister of State for Commerce and Industry as well as the Minister of State for Power, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, in his inauguration address to the conference. In his speech, he emphasised the importance of interoperability and the use of open, international standards, like IEC 62056 for all meter procurement within APDRP-II.

One of the crucial issues in India is the reduction of the aggregate technical and commercial losses (ATC) of the electricity distribution system. According to a study of the World Bank, at some State-owned Electricity Boards (SEBs) this indicator currently exceeds 40 %, and can be attributed to fraud and tamper to a large extent. APDRP-II aims to reduce ATC to 15% within five years and provides strong incentives to utilities capable to achieve and maintain this target. Electricity meters with fraud prevention and detection, and other advanced features, with two-way data exchange will play an important role in this programme. Such meters also help energy end users to use energy more efficiently.

The right approach to interoperability and the selection of the most appropriate meter data exchange standard for India has been debated in the past few years by the metering and utility industry. Although there is an important AMR-enabled meter park installed in India, most of them use proprietary protocols making system integration a very difficult and costly undertaking. This has proven to be an obstacle to large-scale adoption of smart metering. Although there were initiatives to transform all proprietary data formats to a single, standard format, this has proven to be difficult and it does not solve the problem of an incoherent feature set between those meters.

This is why the Indian industry decided to use a standards based approach and started the process of selecting a suitable meter data format and communication protocol for India. The DLMS UA, through its members in India has been part of the process of since 2004, when the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) organised a four days workshop on IEC 62056 DLMS/COSEM in Bangalore, with the participation of some 150 experts. This workshop, where all features and details of DLMS/COSEM have been deeply analysed was the start of building local expertise. Today, an important knowledge base on DLMS/COSEM is available in India, held by manufacturers, test institutes, consultants and software companies. In the same year, CPRI has set up a third-party conformance test laboratory. Since then it has tested more than 30 meter types for Indian and foreign meter manufacturers, and today it is the largest third party testing laboratory in the world. Several manufacturers have joined the DLMS UA and obtained DLMS/COSEM compliance certificates for their meter types. More are expected in the near future.

CPRI has also spearheaded the activities of the standard selection process. In 2008, the Government of India set up a committee under the chairmanship of Mr. S. M. Dhiman of the Central Electricity Authority, with the task to make a recommendation on the standard to be adopted by India. The committee proposed IEC 62056 DLMS/COSEM to be adopted as an Indian Standard by BIS, the Bureau of Indian Standards. This is a natural choice given the global acceptance of DLMS/COSEM and the fact that India follows IEC standards in general. Through its experts present in the Technical Committees of the IEC, it can also actively contribute to their development and maintenance.

The CEA-led Committee also recommended developing a companion standard to make suitable selections from the choices offered by DLMS/ COSEM and in particular, to identify the various fraud types and to specify how these should be handled. The development of this companion standard is also lead by CPRI and it is well in progress.

The concept of building smart metering systems based on the IEC 62056 DLMS/ COSEM standard and project / country specific companion standards has been already proven in the Netherlands – please refer to the NTA 8130 specification. The DLMS UA is looking forward to a continued co-operation with its Indian members and it hopes that the selection of DLMS/COSEM will contribute to the success of APDRP-II.

More insight on the developments of metering in India will available in the next issue of this magazine.

Please contact us for more information or any question about the DLMS User Association at Pre-de-la- Fontaine 19, CH-1217 Meyrin-Geneva, Switzerland, e-mail: dlms@dlms.com, or visit our website www.dlms.com.

Gyõzõ Kmethy, President
Paul Fuchs, General Secretary