ADB lends $300m to finance smart meter roll out in Uzbekistan
September 24, 2015
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $300m loan for the final stage of an on-going programme in Uzbekistan to introduce a country-wide advanced electricity metering system that aims to improve billing, cut power losses and strengthen the financial sustainability of the power sector.
“Reducing the state’s substantial electricity losses is critical for the government of Uzbekistan’s drive to develop and modernise industry and infrastructure, helping it to maintain growth and reduce poverty,” said Keiju Mitsuhashi, senior energy specialist at ADB. “This project assistance will fund modern, accurate and tamper-proof electricity meters in Andijan, Fergana, Kashkadarya, Namangan and Surkhandarya, supporting the government’s long-term development goals.”
Uzbekenergo, the state-owned utility, experiences high system losses and low tariff collection. This weak performance reflects a lack of investment in modern electricity equipment, including meters, which are old, inaccurate and susceptible to tampering.
In response, Uzbekenergo requested support from international financial institutions, including ADB, for the introduction of advanced electricity meters. The smart meters allow the utility to disconnect and reconnect supply remotely without sending staff to the customer site, resulting in reduced revenue losses and meter tampering. The metering system also gives the utility the information it needs to identify and reduce overloading and technical losses, and helps customers manage their power use more efficiently.
ADB supported the first phase of the programme, benefiting one million customers. The fresh project loan will be used to install 3.1 million advanced meters and associated equipment across the five regions, allowing Uzbekenergo to complete the nationwide rollout covering 6.3 million customers. The meters provide innovative technology for ensuring transparency and fairness in power billing and improved customer service, and the initiative is the first of its kind and scale in ADB’s developing member countries.
The loan will also help fund staff training at Uzbekenergo, and carry out a public information campaign to raise awareness about energy efficiency. The project will run for almost five years, with an estimated completion date at the end of 2020.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totalled $22.9bn, including co-financing of $9.2bn.