Energy digitalisation move to boost customer service

In the last 11 years, the country's power generation capacity has increased at least 4.5 times. There has also been a spectacular improvement in the energy sector.

 Now, a raft of initiatives has been taken to increase the use of digital services in the power and energy sectors to provide hassle- free service. A   target has also been set to make a paperless office of the power sector in a short time by enhancing the use of technology.

The government had directed for inclusion of the customer service of the Power and Energy division with the Digital Bangladesh programme. But in most cases it was not done. Currently, people can apply for electricity connections online, but the customer has to move from a table to another to get the connection. Electricity bills can be paid through mobile banking. But people have to come to deliver that bill to the customer. Although prepaid meters are provided to electricity customers, which is very insufficient in proportion to the total number of customers. Customers also have various complaints about these prepaid meters. Although the prepaid meter is digital, customers do not get any e-bill. Recently, the power division has also launched a mobile app called Complaint Management. The customer can submit any complaint here.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, at a recent meeting with both the power and energy division, said there was a need for more digitization to improve customer service, so that the customer can receive a lot of services sitting at home.

Nasrul Hamid said, “The current world is changing very fast due to advanced technology. New inventions are constantly being made to make people's lives easier and more comfortable. We are also gradually moving towards automation to provide uninterrupted service for gas-electricity customers.”

Although digital services have expanded in the power sector, the energy sector lags far behind. However, this division is also slowly moving towards digitization. Prepaid meters have been introduced for gas in a very limited range. This month, Titas Gas has introduced e-bill or online gas bill payment system. The Department of Explosives has automated the process of issuing licences.

In this context, Nasrul Hamid said the automation and digitization in energy management needs to be implemented more quickly. Big projects have already been taken to modernize the gas distribution companies. Consultants have already been appointed for increasing gas pressure in Dhaka and its environs, removing old pipes and automating it, and installing new pipes.

Ali Mohd. Al-Mamun, Managing Director of Titas Gas Transmission & Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL) told Bangladesh Post “Initiatives have been taken to full automation of our own stations for gas supply. Recently, gas bill payment service has been launched through mobile banking. Household and minimal consumers now can pay their gas bills from their homes. Rocket has already been launched, Nagad, a mobile financial service (MFS) is expected to be launched next week and bKash's service is expected to be launched after the Eid. We have a plan to digitize other works in phases.

Titas official said, currently only household consumers – both connected with meters and non-meters – are set to receive this benefit. Others, such as industrial and commercial consumers plus captive power plants, might not avail of the service due to a transaction cap on the mobile financial services.

As per the central bank condition, Nagad customers are allowed to cash in a maximum of Tk30,000 and cash out a maximum of Tk 25,000 a day.

The government has taken initiative to modernize the power distribution and transmission system in the country. Smart grid is being built in its continuity.

Smart grid is the latest technology in the power distribution system. In this system, a customer can control his electricity usage, just as the distribution company can know about the customer's demand; the power can be supplied accordingly. This technology reduces systems loss. The smart grid also automatically detects any fault in the distribution system and provides solutions. Initially, Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) Limited is going to set up smart grids in Dhanmondi, Azimpur, Green Road, Lalmatia and Asad Gate areas of the capital for the first time.

Engineer Mohammad Hossain, director general of the Power Cell, told Bangladesh Post “Once upon a time we had a lot of power shortages. People suffered due to chronic load shedding. Production in the factory was disrupted. Due to various steps taken by the government, we have become a surplus power generation country, overcoming the power shortage. A variety of online services have been introduced in the power sector to ensure improved customer service, increasing the use of modern technology. However, it is not enough, in the future; efforts are being made to get all the services through online, starting from the application for electricity connection. We want to have a paperless office in the future.”