ISLAMABAD, Aug 30: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching an Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) project to assist the high-loss bearing power distribution companies to overcome losses and boost revenue.

The USAID Power Distribution Programme has finalised all arrangements, including manufacturing of AMR meters, installation of which will begin in January next to be completed during the eight months project.

Distribution lines and meter installations will be extensively re-worked under the programme, and power factor improvements to reduce technical losses, increase revenues, reduce demand and improve voltage are being carried out. The programme will also introduce new equipment specifically designed to reduce power outage frequency and duration.

“This project will provide highly accurate electronic meter readings with very little human intervention, using computer technology to transmit readings via GSM/GPRS and radio frequency and will demonstrate how the application of this technology can result in improved revenue and reduced losses and theft for the DISCOs,” said Dick Dumford, Chief Technical Advisor of USAID Power Distribution Programme.

“The project’s long-term objectives are to work with the DISCOs to establish the viability and sustainability of this technology to insure reliable and accurate billing for all customers.

The USAID sponsored project is the first large application of AMR technology to be carried out in Pakistan, although it is very much used in other countries,” Mr. Dumford stated.

“This is one of a group of engineering projects being demonstrated in partnership with the government's DISCOs. Other projects include the establishment of Geographical Information Systems and highly accurate computer analysis of the DISCO power systems and extensive training on their effective use. These systems will identify reliability improvement needs and determine the most economical methods to implement them.

Besides the AMR, smart metering and other hardware projects, the USAID Power Distribution Programme also provided trainings to DISCOs in strategic planning and change management, management development, planning and engineering, customer information system, lineman safety and skill enhancement, business planning and financial modelling, communications and customer outreach, gender equity and in methods of developing and training personnel.

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