Ignoring directions by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC), the UT electricity department has refused to give relief to consumers who have applied for prepaid meters by not exempting them from advance consumption demand (ACD) charges.
The department has been charging ACD, a refundable security charge, from customers by asking them to pay an amount equal to their electricity bill for two months, which is calculated after taking out the monthly average of their consumption for a year.
Following a petition by Industrial Area Tenants Association before JERC, challenging the move of the UT electricity department, the commission on November 20 passed an order with directions to the electricity department that it will not charge ACD from consumers who are prepared to opt for prepaid meters under regulation 6.10 (10) of the JERC Electricity Supply Code of 2010, thus making it obligatory for the licensee to supply power through installation of a prepaid meter to a person if he opts for a pre-paid connection.
The commission had also directed the UT electricity department to procure prepaid meters within six months from date of order. Under the directions, if any consumer applies for installation of prepaid meters within a month from the date of the issue of the order and also provides prepaid meter, the department will not ask for the ACD.
Whereas, if a consumer does not apply for installation of a prepaid meter or provide the prepaid meter within a month from date of issuance of orders, the electricity department shall be at liberty to charge them the ACD, under regulation 6.10 of the JERC Electricity Supply Code 2010.
There are nearly 2.5 lakh consumers in the city. Of them, 1.75 lakh fall in the domestic category. A source said the electricity department had received applications from a large number of consumers – both commercial and residential — for installation of prepaid meters.
Sanjeev Sagar, president of Industrial Area Tenants Association, criticised the electricity department, saying that they would launch a campaign against the department and also take up the matter of non-compliance of JERC directions with UT administrator Shivraj Patil.
UT electricity department superintending engineer MP Singh said “technical problems” were the main reason for non-compliance. “For supplying electricity through prepaid meters, we need to develop a system for which significant time is required,” he said. He added that under the present scenario, consumers would have to pay ACD charges even if they have applied for prepaid meters.