No disconnections till June 30, people can request to pay in instalments
Amidst the furore over high power bills during the last two months, which coincided with the summer and lockdown, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) has admitted that there were spot billing errors in 900 bills, but maintained that the remainder of the bills are accurate.
Bescom Managing Director M.B. Rajesh Gowda said, “The errors were not in the backend calculation soft bills, which an IT implementation agency is doing. They were only in the spot billing machines, it was observed, where slab rates for a single month was taken for two months’ bill. They were rectified and issued to consumers on the same day.”
A large number of consumers have been crying foul over, what they term, are inflated bills. Dileep Vidyadara (@VidyadaraDileep) tweeted: “I used to get around ₹500 every month. But this month they charged me ₹750 with same usage. This is totally unethical.”
However, there were others who agreed that usage had gone up. Muhammad Mach (@MuhammadMach) wrote: “I also got more. We are using more power due to lockdown. That is the issue. Again due to summer, fan and AC are working for more time. So the usage of March and April was more than that of December, January and February. BESCOM is right.”
Domestic consumption up
Though consumers are divided, Bescom is maintaining that usage of power gone up. Consumption, which is usually high during summer due to increased usage of appliances like fans and ACs, has gone up because of lockdown. People have been at home 24×7, and there has been an increase in the use of appliances because of work from home and holiday for children, officials said.
“Our peak demand last summer (March, April) was around 6,100 MW. This year, despite all industries and commercial establishments being closed, it was 4,900 MW. This shows that domestic demand was considerably higher, as the reduction was only around 20% in demand, even though overall demand from commercial and industrial consumers is 50%. The 30% difference has been made up by domestic consumption this time. As our tariffs are telescopic, an increase in usage attracted higher slabs, therefore pushing up tariffs too,” Mr. Gowda said.
However, the energy department and Bescom have assured consumers that there will be no disconnections till June 30, and they will be given time to pay bills in instalments too on request.
“Consumers can compare their bills with their bills from last summer, not the months preceding summer. If they still are not convinced, they can contact Bescom on the helplines. We will rectify it,” the Bescom MD added.
Consumer rights activists said the problem was with some bills where the clubbing of two months’ bills was not shown separately, leading to confusion in the billing slabs.
Y.G. Muralidharan from the Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust and Karnataka Electricity Governance Network also said Bescom does not have the authority without the KERC’s approval to change the billing procedure. “People should have also been informed before it was done. What action has the KERC taken?” he asked.
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