Interview with Arunabha Basu, Head – Technology & Systems, North Delhi Power Limited, India

What role does the smart grid play in India’s future energy landscape?

Smart grid technologies offer a unique opportunity to the ailing Indian electricity distribution companies to leapfrog and adopt the right path of business processes and technologies in a phased manner.

Many utilities in the region are planning for smart grid and in your opinion, where should a utility start at first?

A utility should first draw a clear roadmap for their smart grid journey and subsequently take a step by step approach to prioritizing on the various business cases.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge for utilities as they embark on smart grid, and why?

In my opinion, the necessity of a quick mindset change is the greatest challenge as utilities are, historically, conservative. Change management is going to be the greatest challenge.

What is NDPL’s approach towards smart grid?

NDPL drew up its automation and IT roadmap back in 2003 and we have implemented all the recommendations and have reached the end. We are now thinking, “What’s next?” and, as such, have decided to go ahead with the preparation of a smart grid roadmap. We are in the process of appointing a consultant shortly for this. However, we have already initiated a smart grid demo project.

What role should regulators play in smart grid?

Regulators must appreciate and actively support smart grid technologies to ensure a reliable, robust power supply system with green energy injection and various beneficial choices to consumers. Productivity improvements requires investment, whether through tax payers’ money or by tariff impact. Ultimately, consumers pay tangibly or intangibly.

Arunabha Basu is a presenter at T&D Smart Grids Asia in Bangkok, Thailand January 17-18, 2012.