Power bill: Discount or EMI?

A day after the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission's (MERC) directives, the state government on Tuesday has announced a much-needed relief to the electricity consumers who have received inflated bills from the distribution companies during the lockdown period. Consumers will be given a 2% discount if they pay the entire electricity bill at once while consumers, who desire to opt for payment of electricity bill in installment, can pay in three installments.

Minister of Energy Nitin Raut said the consumers do not have to go to offices of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company(MahaVitaran) but can pay their bills at the assigned collection centres and pay 1/3 rd of the amount. Further, the consumers, who have already paid the full amount of electricity bill, will also be given the discount.

Raut said the MahaVitaran will send meter readers for fresh reading and give revised bills to those consumers who had minimum electricity consumption as they had migrated to home districts during lockdown but had received bills based on the average consumption.

As per the MERC directives, the Minister said he has instructed the MahaVitaran Chief Engineer, Superintendent Engineer, and all field offices to explain how the electricity bill for the month of June has been charged. Besides, they have been asked to resolve the grievances of the consumers.

MahaVitaran will now establish Customer Help Cells in all field offices, interact with webinars and Facebook live with customers, provide information through local news channels and FM radio channels and hold workshops at the weekly market and in housing societies. Further, MahaVitaran will train meter readers and employees engaged in the distribution of electricity bills to regularly interact with the consumers.

It must be mentioned here that MERC after taking a serious note with regard to media reports on inflated bills had asked the distribution companies not to disconnect the power for non-payment until the bill related grievances of the consumer are redressed including the exercising of choice for making payment in EMIs. MERC had asked the distribution companies to provide the consumers an option of payment of bill in three EMIs wherever the bill is more than double that of the average for the period of March to May.

In view of the lockdown, MERC had earlier directed that the distribution companies will issue bills for the energy charges limited to 10% of average energy consumption to industrial and commercial establishments if actual meter reading was not available. The distribution companies were directed not to visit residential consumer premises for meter reading but to raise bills based on average consumption during March to May (except where automatic meter reading facility was available).

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