Effects of kVAh billing systems (Part 1)
The story of energy calibrations has come a long way. Billing systems have witnessed a significant change in metering equipment from solenoid based meters to digital meters. Other innovations are being made to improve the accuracy of the billing system.
One such potential solution has a word in the market which seems to be the glittering solution for the Indian Power Sector, but as the saying goes “All that glitters is not gold” this potential solution seems to have arrived with challenges of its own which range from legal aspects, fairness, regulatory and commercial aspects.
Why kWh metering in the first place
The active energy (kWh) is generated via fossil fuels like, coal, gas, and renewable sources like wind, solar, etc. which are non-electrical sources. The generated electricity is distributed by the distribution companies (DISCOMs), consumed by the end-user to perform work and he or she is billed as per the active energy usage. The current scenario works according to this architecture. This is why the common standard accepted for billing is in kWh. Also to make the consumer pay for the energy he /she has consumed, it is necessary to account the energy consumption at every stage, this seems to be impossible using the kVA meters.
Reactive energy (kVArh) is a component of the apparent energy (kVAh) whose generation is not directly linked to the conversion of energy resources. The consumer does not use it for doing work nor the DISCOMs are involved in transmitting the reactive energy. It is irrelevant and financially unfair to have a tariff structure solely based on such a parameter that is not accountable.
Accountability of the kVA structure is seriously vulnerable as the apparent energies of the individual phases do not add up to give one value of “Total apparent energy” In short, the law of conservation of energy is not followed.
The poor power factor penalty is more appropriate than the kVA based tariff because the penalties have two very fair aspects:
A warning factor to which there is no penalty.
A penalty for violations beyond the allowable limit.
On the other hand, the kVA Based tariff does not have any such provisions. This seems to have a very vague approach to the tariff structure policies.
Wolves under sheep’s skin
With the introduction of the kVA tariff structure, the excessive drawl of the reactive power won’t be considered as a violation anymore, ignorant consumers who do not tend to install capacitors for power factor correction and won’t mind paying a little high for their kVAh bill will draw reactive power heavily and thus will adversely affect the voltage quality furthermore.
Ultimately the commercially conscious consumer has a very high probability of suffering due to this. Even though he has power factor correction equipment to reduce the kVAh bills, he is forced to pay higher bills as the utility (Electricity provider) fails to maintain the voltage levels as per his supply point.
Know Your Power A-Citizens Primer on the Electricity Sector – Prayas Energy Group.
kVAh metering: magic solution or aberration – Surendra Jhalora