In Asia, Pakistan’s financial planning authority the National Economic Council (Ecnec) last week rejected proposals from electric utility IESCO and water utility LESCO for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) projects.
According to local media, the executive board has blocked the AMI projects including the establishment of new customer information and billing systems until reservations of Pakistan's Planning Commission for energy are overcome.
The Business Recorder reported that an official on condition of anonymity said Ecnec should not approve the smart metering infrastructure projects as installation will cost the government US$3-3.5 billion without having any impact on energy losses.
In a press statement, the secretary of the Water and Power Ministry said IESCO’s Rs 18.6 billion (US$170.6 million)and LESCO’s Rs 30.597 billion (US$284.4 million) worth of projects are designed to enhance the distribution companies' load control and management systems.
The source also said that 'kickbacks' may have been taken in the project to be funded in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank.
Commenting on the assumption, an official from IESCO argued that the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules are not applied to this project as the Asian Development Bank will evaluate the bidding process.
AMI projects in Pakistan
The news follows investigations by the US Office of Inspector General of a mispractice that contributed towards the USAID decision not to hand over funds for an AMI project proposed by Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) and Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco).
The Planning Commission said the project would take 10 years to implement and cost US$6-8 billion but would make an immediate impact on transmission and distribution losses as well as on tariff reduction, Metering & Smart Energy International has learnt.