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PFC loans for automation

New Delhi, Nov. 30: Power Finance Corporation is planning to offer low interest rate loans to power meter makers, state electricity boards and power utilities to give a fillip to metering and IT-based applications in the power sector.

Funds will also be provided to the state electricity regulatory commissions to enable them to computerise data and handle other related functions. The Assam SERC is the first commission to get such a loan sanctioned from PFC. The loans will also be extended to power utilities and state electricity boards.

PFC is offering loans at an effective interest rate of 8.25 per cent. This is 0.25 per cent lower than the schemes offered by Asian Development Bank for similar loans.

M. K. Govil, PFC’s executive director (projects), said, “With borrower friendly policies, the power utilities and manufacturers are invited to avail of PFC funding to meet the national objective of power sector reforms. This will help improve the financial performance of power utilities and ensure consumer satisfaction through metering, energy accounting and IT applications.”

PFC has sanctioned more than Rs 60,000 crore and disbursed over Rs 35,600 crore till September 2003 under various categories of funding to the power sector utilities.

“This includes a sanction of Rs 2000 crore and disbursement of more than Rs 1,100 crore for schemes to undertake metering. These loans have covered installation of more than 1.2 crore single phase and more than 20 lakh three phase power meters, including electronic meters,” said Govil. PFC is also providing funds for state of the art pre-paid and remote metering scheme.

“This is a new area and we are evaluating the proposals. No sanctions have been made yet for pre-paid metering. It is a new concept in India and consumers will have to be educated about its methods and use. Though it sounds as easy as topping up your pre-paid card for mobile phones, there are a few basic that needs to be taken care,” said a senior PFC official.

“The objective of the IT solution should be to reduce human interface in commercial processes to avoid wilful mistakes. IT should be used as a strategy to improve commercial and operational performance and priority should be given to the use of IT in commercial processes and in improving the quality of supply in selected high revenue areas,” the official added.

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