NETC ensures high transmission availability in NER India
NETC's managing director shares the strategies they employ to keep their mandate.
The North East Transmission Company Ltd (NETC) is the only transmission company providing operation and maintenance (O&M) in the North Eastern Region (NER) of India, and it achieved 99.95% transmission system availability for the financial year 2020-2021. According to its Annual Report 2020-2021, its transmission line availability is above the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission norm of 98.5% availability.
NETC is tasked to maintain the 662.8 kilometres (km) double circuit transmission corridor in the region and there were challenges, mostly environmental and terrain concerns, at this front. But various projects have been adopted to mitigate the effects of these challenges.
Asian Power caught up with NETC Managing Director Shri Satyajit Ganguly about the strategies, projects, and future plans of the company.
How did you start at NETC Ltd.? Please share with us your work experience that has contributed to your professional career.
I was appointed as the managing director of ONGC Tripura Power Company Ltd. with additional responsibility as managing director of NETC Ltd. in the year 2018; and from the year 2020 onwards, I was appointed as full-time managing director in NETC Ltd.
I have 35 years of experience in the power sector encompassing generation, transmission, power exchange, power market, policy and regulatory advocacy, strategy and business development across central government, public sector and private sector in some of the best companies of India.
What are your key achievements as the CEO of NETC Ltd.?
For operation and maintenance, we ensured 99.95% availability for the FY20-21 of NETC Transmission System by ensuring preventive maintenance in line with the schedule, backed up with prompt corrective maintenance despite the difficult terrain. We have also proactively ensured perfect coordination with POWERGRID, Pioneer Construction, Telegence Powercomm Pvt. Ltd., as well as state transmission utilities to ensure planning and implementation of maintenance protocol to ensure maximum possible availability despite lockdown constraints. We also facilitated the optimisation of all existing and sustainable technology.
For the strategic aspect, we ensured continuous evaluation, improvement, and implementation of standard operating process and standard maintenance practices, and created a business development plan to explore project management consultancy (PMC) in transmission in NER and consultancy in related areas.
What’s the most important project you spearhead for the company?
North East Transmission Company is entrusted with the maintenance of its 662.8-km, 400-kilovolt Double Circuit transmission corridor through similar difficult hilly and dense forest terrain of the States of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Assam in the NER. Some of the forest terrains are also inhabited by wild animals, mainly elephants and leopards. The transmission line crosses two major rivers, namely: Brahmaputra and Barak.
The challenges include the vulnerability of line due to exposure of tower foundations because of landslides and rains, submergence of towers in low-lying areas, and tower endangerment during high wind and cyclones and changing course of rivers, amongst others.
In order to mitigate these challenges, various measures have been adopted, which include temporary and permanent wall protection, stub encasement and additional anti-rust painting of tower legs in waterlogged areas, and adoption of pile foundations for towers under threat due to the river changing its course.
Other mitigating measures include the adoption of chemical earthing along with the provision of Transmission Line Arrestors in high isokeraunic level coupled with high soil resistivity, clearance of vegetation at frequent intervals, and developing environmental awareness amongst local people, and replacement of disc insulators with polymer insulators and painting of towers with zinc-rich, anti-corrosive paint in a polluted area.
The pandemic affected every sector in the world. What problems arose for NETC Ltd. and how did you overcome them?
NETC Ltd. has site offices located at different states of NER, i.e. Guwahati, Goalpara, and Silchar of Assam State, Agartala and Kumarghat of Tripura State, and Jowai of Meghalaya State. Ensuring adequate COVID protocol for employees and their family members at distant locations without sacrificing O&M protocols, was a difficult task, but was handled optimally by effective communication and follow-up.
NETC has followed the guidelines of central and state governments whilst adhering to the O&M schedule. Our office proactively implemented strict adherence to COVID-appropriate measures, like social distancing, sanitisation scheduling, work-from-home policy, providing Mediclaim facility benefits with additional coverage of COVID-19, and many more..
What have you learned from these experiences and how do you plan to apply them with your role as CEO?
CEOs should adopt the leadership approach that is needed by the organization in view of risks and environment. He does not have the luxury to adopt the approach that suits his personality, even if that has been his winning habit. I wish to adopt mainly a blend of the strategy approach and the human assets approach. I believe that it is paramount for a CEO to create, test, and design the implementation of long-term strategy followed by optimum allocation of resources to achieve the objective.
I wish to balance the time optimally between the external (like customers, competitors, technology, market etc.) and internal (hiring, control system etc) aspects of the organisation’s operation with special emphasis on intrinsic development of desired values, behaviour, and attitude of human resources. I believe CEOs need to communicate coherently and ensure in designing programs, systems, procedures, and rewards to reinforce the desired behaviours.
What is NETC’s edge against its competitors?
We are the only transmission company doing O&M in the North Eastern Region. The entire O&M is done departmentally and we have developed a robust and comprehensive standard operating procedure of O&M.
The company follows a performance-based compensation method which motivates employees to do excellent work in adverse conditions. We have an excellent relationship with all the stakeholders like Regional Power Committee, Regional Load Despatch Centre, Central Transmission Utility (POWERGRID), as well as all distribution companies and other transmission utilities of NER. We have developed a robust HR policy which is designed to train and retrain critical skill sets for excellence.
We have developed an internal expertise in project execution, as well as O&M works, which are specific to NER. We have used various innovative measures in performing and scheduling all aspects of maintenance activities, thereby achieving 99.95% transmission availability.
What’s in store for NETC Ltd. in the coming years?
NETC is poised to grow in the areas of PMC in the transmission sector in NER states, signature analysis of power and distribution transformers in NER states, and supervisory and advisory support for smart metering projects in NER. NETC is also venturing in the renewable energy sector—solar, wind, and solar-wind hybrid, starting with micro or mini projects for NER. Furthermore, methodologies and modalities to be adopted shall be put up. We are also planning to participate in national and international PMC, engineering, procurement, and construction projects along with other equity partners.