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Distcoms to challenge HC order on defective meters

The power distributing companies are moving SC against a recent Delhi HC order that said digital electricity meters with an error margin of more than 1 pc should be considered faulty, reports Avishek G Dastidar.
Hindustan Times | By Avishek G Dastidar
UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2008 11:49 PM IST

The power distributing companies (distcoms) are moving Supreme Court against a recent Delhi High Court order that said digital electricity meters with an error margin of more than 1 per cent should be considered faulty.

Currently, as per law, all digital meters have an error margin of 2.5 per cent. The High Court's ruling has enormous implications because if implemented, all consumers with digital meters in Delhi can demand refund of bills paid and replacement of meters. The number of such consumers is more than 30 lakh.

Meter manufacturers recently told distcoms that making such meters as the High Court was mandating was next to impossible. "Nowhere in the world will you find meters with 1 per cent error margin. Making such meters will almost be a technical impossibility. Even if they are made, they would be extremely bulky and way too expensive for consumers to afford," said S.K. Singhvi, vice-chairman of the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers' Association.

Distcoms are currently arming themselves with documents from the Bureau of Indian Standards, the government's scientific body for accuracy of meters to strengthen their case. "As per the BIS, the accuracy of meters should be 2.5 per cent, which we follow. The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, too, seconds that," said a distcom official.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, distcoms are going to maintain that the High Court probably did not have access to scientific data that explained why 1 per cent error margin level couldn't be achieved.

Only in laboratory conditions can a meter have an error margin of 1 per cent. When that meter is installed, it's margin of error changes to 2.5 per cent because factors like temperature of the site of installation, voltage fluctuations, frequency etc impact the performance of the device, they argue. "In fact, India has one of the stringent norms of error margin. In the West, it goes up to 6 per cent in Germany," the official said.

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