Representational image
Representational image

Amidst complaints from Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu and a couple of others against inflated power bills in Mumbai, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) on Monday directed the distribution companies to give the consumers an option to make payment in three EMIs, wherever the bill is more than double of the average for the period March to May.

Further, the distribution companies will not disconnect for non-payment until the bill related grievance is redressed, including exercising of choice for making payment in EMIs. Similar directives were given by a couple of regulators in Tripura.

 Taking a note of media reports with regard to inflated bills received by the consumers during lockdown, MERC held a meeting with the Tata Power, BEST, Adani Electricity and Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company and directed them to set up a dedicated help desk/Grievance Officer at sub division/division level for ensuring that grievances are responded to within a day of their receipt.

 Consumers should be provided an online software utility for them to self-check their bills in terms of correctness of units consumed as per meter reading, applicable tariff rate, tariff slab benefits and comparison with corresponding period of last year. Further, 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 a suo motu basis. 

 ‘’The Commission is keeping a vigil on the billing issues and would not like any consumer to be put to any undue inconvenience by the distribution licensees,’’ the electricity regulator said.

 MERC further said during the lockdown period, bills were raised on average consumption of three months prior to March 2020 which being winter months, the consumption is invariably low and therefore average bills were of lower amount. 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 that was issued in June 9.

  MERC recalled that after it issued orders, the revised tariff has been significantly lower compared to previous year and has been made applicable from April 1, 2020. There has been a 5% drop in MahaVitaran’s residential tariff, 1% in BEST, 12% in Adani Electricity and 10% in Tata Power tariff. There is reduction in tariff for all categories of consumers of all the utilities, including residential consumers. Post issuance of revised tariff, for the bills issued in May onwards for the consumption of electricity in April onwards, no fuel adjustment cost is levied on the consumers. 

 MERC said that consumers were billed on actual meter reading based during lockdown.

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