MSEDCL to install smart meters in govt offices - Hindustan Times
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MSEDCL to install smart meters in govt offices

Jun 29, 2024 09:12 AM IST

Following protests by political parties and social organisations, MSEDCL clarified that smart meters will not be available to common consumers from June 27. Subsequently, it decided to install smart meters in government offices

While the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) has now decided to install smart meters in government offices, it is felt that such a move will defeat the very purpose of installing smart meters namely, boosting revenue by promptly disconnecting power supply upon non-payment of electricity bills. The reason behind this view is that the arrears of a total 4,348 government offices in Pune district alone amounted to 8.56 crore in February this year, according to MSEDCL statistics. Of the 4,348 government offices in Pune district, 1,500 are located within the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) limits.

Of the 4,348 government offices in Pune district, 1,500 are located within the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) limits. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
Of the 4,348 government offices in Pune district, 1,500 are located within the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) limits. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)

Following protests by political parties and social organisations, MSEDCL clarified that smart meters will not be available to common consumers from June 27. Subsequently, it decided to install smart meters in government offices. However, as MSEDCL cannot disconnect power supply to government offices like hospitals, schools and police stations even if they do not pay electricity bills on time, the smart meters will now be used to ensure accurate billing for government offices instead of increasing revenue collection.

A senior MSEDCL official said, “After MSEDCL decided not to install smart prepaid meters for common consumers, we had no choice but to install them in government offices. However, it will only serve the purpose of providing accurate readings. The main objective of smart meters is to boost revenue collection by disconnecting the defaulters’ connections, similar to telecom companies. Now, we will use these meters for accurate readings in government offices since we cannot disconnect their power supply. They pay electricity bills in bulk and are often late.”

“Protesters mainly claim that the cost of smart meters will be recovered by increasing electricity rates. This is quite possible as MSEDCL does not have the funds to buy them. However, we will need to get permission from the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) for that,” the senior official said.

Rajesh Pawar, chief superintendent engineer, MSEDCL, Pune Circle, said, “At present, MSEDCL is installing smart prepaid meters on 163 feeder pillars in the Pune Circle. After completing these installations, MSEDCL will install meters at 320 staff quarters and 250 MSEDCL offices in the Pune Circle.”

Meanwhile, Pratap Hogade, president of the Maharashtra Electricity Consumers’ Association, warned of a mass movement against smart prepaid meters saying they will heavily burden consumers. “Under the central government’s ‘Improved Distribution Area Scheme’, there is 60% subsidy for new infrastructure. However, under the ‘National Smart Grid Mission’, there is only a 900 per meter subsidy for general consumers,” Hogade said.

“MSEDCL has falsely advertised that meters will be free for customers. In reality, excluding the subsidy, the remaining 25,000 crore will be included in MSEDCL’s electricity rate petition. After approval by MERC, electricity prices will likely increase. Starting April 1, 2025, consumers will face an increase of at least 30 paise per unit. We urge all electricity consumers, industrial organisations, social service organisations and political parties to unite against this,” Hogade said.

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