Power sector regulator to embrace AI, machine learning to boost functioning

The CERC floated a request for proposal (RFP) in December 2020 to select a consultant working in the domain of AI.
The apex power sector regulator, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), is planning to set up an artificial intelligence (AI)-based regulatory expert system tool (REST) for improving access to information and assist the commission in discharge of its duties.

So far, only the Supreme Court (SC) has an electronic filing (e-filing) system and is in the process of building an AI-based back-end service. 

The CERC will be the first such quasi-judicial regulatory body to embrace AI and machine learning (ML).

The decision comes at a time when the CERC has been shut for four months, following an order by the SC. 

According to the data available on the CERC website, there are 1,000 cases pending with the regulator while it was shut. In 173 cases, the order has been reserved by the CERC, but not pronounced yet. There are 450 fresh applications pending for hearing before the CERC.

The CERC floated a request for proposal (RFP) in December 2020 to select a consultant working in the domain of AI, ML natural language processing to develop AI-based REST for the CERC.

The commission in the RFP said REST was for the purpose of “building institutional memory and for creation, reference, and intelligent retrieval of information/documents to assist the commission in discharge of its functions under the Electricity Act, 2003”.

The CERC has a management information system (MIS) called System for Adjudication Using Digital Access & Management of Information (SAUDAMINI) for sourcing data. However, officials said an intelligent system was needed to handle the increasing workload and widening the gamut of cases.

In the RFP issued by the CERC, it said over the years, the number of petitions filed before the CERC had increased manifold and the orders issued by the commission have ranged over an increasing number of topics/issues.

“Therefore, the monitoring and analysing of such orders have become a challenging task for the CERC. In addition, the CERC regularly receives information from the regulated entities/stakeholders/nodal bodies. The information received is important from a regulatory perspective. However, such information generally contains voluminous inter-related data of a complex nature,” said the RFP.

The agency hired for setting up REST for the CERC will need to provide AI-based search and recommendation, an automated system creation and extraction of legal documents, and develop process automation data visualisation tools. The new system will be later merged with the existing MIS SAUDAMINI, said the CERC.

While the commission is yet to receive bids, the deadline for developing the new back-end system is six months from the date of selection of the consultant.

Recently, following the Covid-induced lockdown, the SC moved to e-filing of legal documents and had initiated online hearing as well. 

Similar guidelines for high courts and district courts have been issued. Once all courts are plugged into a central system, AI-based portals will enable efficiency and reduce paperwork.

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