May 3, 2020

Lockdown shock: Residential, commercial consumers suffer high electricity bills in Delhi

Lockdown shock: Residential, commercial consumers suffer high electricity bills in Delhi

Twesh Mishra

New Delhi, May 2

Commercial and residential consumers are complaining of high electricity bills with the amount charged being much higher than their consumption. Several consumers in the national capital said that there were no meter readings done by power distribution company (Discoms) officials before these bills were given.

Small businesses hit

Small business owners appear to be the worst hit as they are given provisional bills based on their consumption for the same month last year.

“We are being told that the bills have been raised while considering the electricity consumption during the corresponding month of the last financial year by power distribution companies. But this cannot be a fair parameter as there has been no business activity in the past month. This makes it impossible for us to have similar electricity consumption,” said Sandeep Khandelwal, President of the Delhi Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association, which has around 1,200 affiliated members across Delhi.

“There has been some communication from Discoms requesting self-reporting of metered consumption, but it is not possible for us to visit the restaurants due to the lockdown. Further, in the absence of any business activity, paying these exorbitant bills is very distressing,” Khandelwal said.

Discoms assure adjustment of bills on actual consumption

These provisional bills are being raised in compliance with the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission’s directives issued in the first week of April. Provisional bills get regularised as and when the actual meter reading for the provisional period is done, Discom officials said.

“Consumers who disagree with the provisional bills can send actual readings through a WhatsApp number provided by Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL). The bills will be re-generated with this actual reading and consumers can pay them. These actual readings can be sent up to 7 days before the payment due date and a fresh bill will be generated with the reading sent by the customer,” said Ganesh Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited.

“This problem does not arise for the larger consumers of TPDDL as 50-55 per cent of power consumption in TPDDL area are covered through meters that do not require manual reading. These meters have automatic reading download facility,” he said.

“For bills raised till June 30, 2020, BSES consumers can get a rebate of up to ₹220 in their electricity bills. All they have to do pay their bills within 7 days of bill generation and do ‘Self Meter Reading’ of their electricity usage. This will ensure, that apart from getting the rebate, they can also get electricity bill based on actual meter reading and not provisional reading,” a BSES spokesperson said.

Subsidy for domestic consumers

Domestic consumers who are eligible to receive a subsidy on power consumption from the Delhi government have also raised concerns over provisional bills not reflecting actual consumption. This issue assumes significance as the subsidy component is based on monthly consumption.

“Once the actual readings are received, say after 40 or 50 days, the total consumption will be divided by the number of days since last meter reading. This averaged reading will be extrapolated to 30 days to determine the eligibility of consumers for power subsidy and correct consumption slab. The bills will be adjusted for domestic consumers while factoring in the subsidy component and applicable consumption slab,” Srinivasan said.

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