Higher power bills due to summer usage: Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC)

Updated: Jun 30, 2020, 09:56 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Regulator accepts power firms' argument but tells them to give EMI option to consumers

MERC wants utilities to enhance transparency in billing
MERC wants utilities to enhance transparency in billing

Following complaints of overbilling, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has directed power utilities (discoms) to allow consumers to pay in three instalments but justified higher bills saying they were raised on actual meter readings for summer months when consumption is normally higher.

It has, however, told the companies to be more transparent in billing and gear up to redress consumer grievances within a day of receiving them.

MERC calls for a meeting
The MERC said it responded to media reports and called heads of all the four discoms for a meeting early this week.

MERC had called heads of all the four discoms for a meeting early this week
MERC had called heads of all the four discoms for a meeting early this week

It said a key reason for increased bills that emerged at the review was that bills for the COVID-19 lockdown period were raised on average consumption of three months prior to March 2020, which being winter months, consumption was invariably low and therefore average bills were lower.

Bill high due to adjustments
"The present bills raised on actual meter readings are of the summer months where the consumption is normally high and the bills are always of higher amounts. Hence, the balance amount payable after adjusting the average bill amounts for each of the three months March, April and May have led to a higher bill issued in June," said MERC's official statement on Monday.

The commission has directed the utilities to further enhance transparency while dealing with electricity bills and set up a robust monitoring mechanism to ensure that specific grievances of consumers are promptly responded to. It wants a dedicated help desk/grievance officer at sub-division/division level by every utility to ensure that the grievances are responded to within a day.

No disconnection
It has further asked for an online software utility for consumers to self-checking their bills for the correctness of units consumed as per meter reading, applicable tariff rate, tariff slab benefits and comparison with the corresponding period of last year.

"Internal controls to detect the abnormal usage which are already in place should be strictly implemented. If any excessive consumption is noticed, the meter reading should be rechecked on suo moto basis," MERC said, telling the discoms that nobody should be disconnected for non-payment until the grievance is redressed.

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