NRECA International Helps Bangladeshi Utility Modernize Its Service

Dan Waddle, senior vice president of NRECA International, addresses top Bangladeshi government officials and others at a dinner celebrating the successful completion of a project to modernize a government-run utility. (Photo Courtesy: NRECA International)

NRECA International recently completed a nearly $2 million project in Bangladesh to help make a government-owned utility more efficient and profitable while enabling it to reduce power outages for its 1.7 million consumers.

The 20-month-long project, completed in December 2022, was funded by the Asian Development Bank to help modernize the Northern Electric Supply Corp. in Rajshahi, near the country’s border with India, said Dan Waddle, senior vice president of NRECA International.

An NRECA International team of 30 professionals designed and implemented a comprehensive geographic information systems-based network management system to help NESCO improve network operations, customer service and information management. The project involved the use of drones to help create a GIS database of the utility’s network assets and included a door-to-door census of consumers to confirm names and locations.

A key part of the project was to create an outage management and restoration system that reduces the length of outages by pinpointing their location and sending crews to repair them more quickly. That reduces lost revenue to the utility while also improving customer relations, Waddle said. The outage management system was implemented in tandem with a customer complaint management platform.

Once the two platforms were launched, NRECA International trained NESCO’s staff on how to use them effectively.

“Our client was extremely happy at the end of the project,” Waddle said. “They hadn’t anticipated that they would actually get a functioning database and outage management system in that length of time. They were quite pleased.”

The Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh has expressed interest in exploring how NRECA International could offer similar services to improve other government-owned utilities, although the nonprofit would still have to compete to win the contracts, he said.

The project’s success was all the more impressive because the length of time provided by the contract to complete it was reduced from two years to 20 months, Waddle said. At the same time, the amount of work expanded with the addition of the time-consuming consumer census.

“Our IT team implemented the outage management system and developed the complaint management software over a 20-month period,” he said. “To me, that was remarkable. They did a fabulous job. I’m very proud of our team.”

While this project focused on a government-run utility, NRECA International also continues to provide support for a network of electric cooperatives that it helped create in the nation beginning in 1978. Today, 80 co-ops serve about 125 million people in Bangladesh.

Erin Kelly is a staff writer for NRECA.