Explaining the technology, MSEDCL officials said an infrared meter works on technology similar to that used to transfer data between two mobile phones. "A meter reading handset will be synchronized with 2,000 meters. The handset can take the readings of only these 2,000 meters. We will feed 20 types of data into the handset pertaining to the meters. If a meter is tampered with, the handset will show 'abnormal reading' on its screen."
"The meter reader will automatically know which meter is tampered with and pass on the information to vigilance officials. We will not have to go through consumption pattern of consumers or depend on tip offs to identify power pilferers," he said.
The meter reader will be connected to the MSEDCL server. As soon as a reading is taken, the data will be transferred to the server. The recently installed general packet radio service (GPRS) enabled meter reading system also does the same thing.
There are other advantages of infrared meters. The official said there would be no chance of faulty readings, recorded intentionally or erroneously. The meters have an inbuilt battery, which would enable MSEDCL to take meter readings even if the meter had stopped working in the absence of power supply.
MSEDCL also plans to go in for radio frequency meters. These meters would automatically record readings of all meters within a certain range. The meter reader will not be required to go to every house to take the readings.
The distributor has come a long way in measuring power consumption more accurately. In the first phase, electromechanical meters were replaced by electronic ones. Then, photo billing was introduced so that the reading was visible on the bill. Next came GPRS-enabled cameras, which immediately transfer the reading to the company's server and also indicate the spot where the reading had been taken.