‘Pay power bills only after 21-day lockdown ends; meter-reading, offline payments suspended’

Published on Mar 27, 2020 10:45 PM IST
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In wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has asked utilities to suspend all non-essential activities related to power supply, including meter-reading and bill-payment at various centers. The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) has also stated that due dates of every bill will be accounted only after the 21-day lockdown ends.

In a directive issued on Thursday, MERC asked utilities to suspend activities like meter-reading, billing, visiting consumer premises, meeting consumers in person, bill collection at payment centers and release of new connections.

The regulatory body has stated that with no meter readings, estimated bills must be computed on an average basis. A source close to the development said that estimated bills as per electricity supply code regulations are taken as the average billing of three months.

Officials from the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) said that the due date for every bill will be accounted only after the 21-day lockdown period. For instance, if you have to pay your current bill in another seven days, they will be counted only after April 14, after the national lockdown ends.

The guidelines further state that utilities should update digital payment modes and also undertake automated meter-reading wherever possible.

“While we are promoting digital payment, not many can access online modes of payment. Instead of lining up in front of centres, we have decided to not consider the due dates during the lockdown period,” said Aseem Gupta, managing director, MSEDCL.

The MERC directive states, “Considering the critical situation and to ensure full implementation of the government directives to ensure social distancing to control the spread of Covid-19, the commission deems it fit to give certain relaxations in supply code in services not directly linked to supply of power.” It added that electricity is an essential service and utilities must ensure continuity of power.

The state discom has a consumer base of 2.20 crore people. Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited, Tata Power and BEST are also encouraging its consumers to switch to digital modes of payment.

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