Following the furore over high electricity bills across Mumbai in June, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission said it had met up with heads of MSEDCL, BEST Undertaking, AEML, and TPC to get more information on the matter.
It was learnt that 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.
The Commission has directed immediate implementation of following measures.
MERC clarified that wherever the bill is more than double that of the average for the period March to May, consumer should be given the option to make payment in 3 EMIs.
Importantly the Commission clarified nobody’s electricity connection should be disconnected for non-payment until the bill related grievance of the consumer is redressed, including the exercising of choice for making payment in EMIs.
MERC also directed electricity distribution companies to set up a dedicated help desk/grievance officer at sub-division/division level by every utility for ensuring that the grievances are responded within a day of their receipt.
It also added that 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 the corresponding period of last year.
Electricity distribution companies have been asked to strictly implement internal controls to detect the abnormal usage of electricity. If any excessive consumption is noticed, the meter reading should be rechecked on suo moto basis.
MERC said that the option to approach IGRC, CGRF and Electricity Ombudsman remains available to consumers wanting to take legal recourse as per the laid down regulations of the Commission, in case the consumer is not satisfied with the response of the distribution utility.
MERC said that it 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.
Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission has been set up under Electricity Act 2003 to regulate the electricity sector in the State of Maharashtra. As part of its functions the Commission periodically determines tariff for the State electricity utilities to be charged to the electricity consumers. Commission has also set up a 3-tier consumer grievance redressal mechanism.
A large number of people living around Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane have got inflated electricity bills ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs 20,000, in June. These were four to eight times the normal bill expected during summer. Consumers had raised complaints around inflated electricity bills from MSEDCL supply in parts of Mumbai, Thane, and Navi Mumbai, as well as from Adani Electricity and Tata Power.