Start monthly billing or face action, commission tells Chandigarh power dept
A shift to monthly bills can help reduce the financial burden on the power consumers by around 20%, say department insidersUpdated: May 21, 2020 00:35 IST
The Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) has told the UT electricity department to start monthly billing and improve supply quality immediately, or face action.
Currently, more than 85% consumers (domestic and commercial) are being billed bimonthly in the city. A shift to monthly bills can help reduce the financial burden on the power consumers by around 20%, say department insiders.
“Depending on the consumption slabs, tariff increases for consumers. For instance, if a household consumes 200 units in a month, then under the bimonthly bill system he has to pay ₹806 for a month. But, under monthly billing, he would be charged ₹652,” said a department official requesting anonymity. For up to 150 units consumed, the consumer is charged at ₹2.75 per unit, and between 151-400 units, the rate is ₹4.80 per unit.
The JERC order comes in view of the department’s failure to implement monthly billing for all the categories except agriculture pumping supply, despite repeated directions of the commission.
In response, the department had contended in its annual tariff review petition, “The conversion of meter reading from bimonthly to monthly will lead to various problems as there is acute shortage of staff. Further, the software is also required to be amended for monthly billing. Also, the work for installation of smart meters is in progress, which will help for monthly billing.”
However, the commission, taking serious note of the department’s non-compliance of its orders, directed it to comply with immediate effect and submit the quarterly progress of the same to the commission.
NON-ACHIEVEMENT OF CAPITALISATION TARGET
The commission in its order observed that the department was continuously undertaking lower than expected capitalisation through the years. The department in 2019-20 has undertaken a capitalisation of ₹0.44 crore till September 2019 against ₹69.14 crore approved.
Lower capitalisation signifies that not enough efforts have been undertaken in enhancing the reliability and quality of supply to the consumers. This includes undertaking capital expenditure activities necessary for improving the service quality and targeting 24x7 supply to all consumers.
Directing the department to improve on the city’s power infrastructure, the JERC order reads, “The petitioner is directed to ensure that the capitalisation targets approved are achieved. In case the petitioner fails to achieve the target, then appropriate penalties shall be imposed at the end of the control period.”