ISLAMABAD: While accusing Discos and K-Electric of massive overbilling to hide their inefficiencies, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has decided to initiate legal proceedings against all Distribution Companies including KEL under NEPRA Fine Regulations, 2021 for violation of the provisions of NEPRA Act.
The Authority took very serious notice of the complaints reported in NEPRA offices from all over Pakistan regarding excessive, inflated, and wrong bills charged by the distribution companies to consumers during July and August 2023. On such violations of the applicable documents, the Authority decided to conduct a hearing of all distribution companies and also invite Ministry of Energy (Power Division) to attend the said hearing.
The Authority stated that it is very unfortunate that distribution companies are deliberately carrying out such malpractices in order to hide their inefficiencies due to which thousands of consumers suffered higher electricity bills. Overall, it can be said that most of the DISCOs have failed to charge electricity in accordance with the relevant clauses and terms and conditions of tariff approved by the Authority. The Discos have also failed to carry out the mechanism of percentage checking as provided in Consumer Service Manual (CSM). Moreover, detection bills have been charged in violation of clause 9.1 and 9.2 of CSM.
The Authority, in its report also observed that consumer(s) particularly domestic and less electricity users suffered a lot due to such overbilling and were unable to c pay the bill. This ultimately affected DISCOs recovery, increased AT&C losses and subsequently load shedding.
The Discos are responsible for overcharging to consumers and have been found involved in such illegal practices due to failure to abide by the relevant provisions of the applicable documents. The DISCOs have also charged detection bills to hundreds of thousands of consumers in violation of the provisions of Consumer Service Manual.
The Authority has recommended the following actions against Discos and KE: (i) legal proceedings against all Distribution Companies including KEL under NEPRA Fine Regulations, 2021 for violation of the provisions of NEPRA Act, CSM and tariff terms and conditions etc; (ii) Discos may be directed to replace all defective meters immediately above two months and to submit the compliance report within two months. Data of such meters be retrieved and the consumers be charged actual reading instead of average billing; (iii) Discos may be directed to coordinate with Power Information Technology Company (PITC) and review all the inflated charged bills since June 2023 and onwards which caused conversion of category of billing from protected/life line consumers into unprotected/nonlife line consumers due to billing cycle above 30 days, excessive billing, whatsoever by collecting account No. wise details from PITC; (iv) Discos may be directed to obtain the required data/details from PITC for the purpose of revision of inflated bills on pro-rata basis. Discos shall correct the bills within one billing cycle and issue revised bills to the affected consumers without compromising on their status of protected/ life line consumer as the case may be, and submit compliance report within thirty days; (v) Discos may be directed to initiate proceedings against concerned officials for violation of provisions of Consumer Service Manual and other applicable documents as per their service rules on account of carrying out such illegal practices and submit compliance report within thirty days; (vi) Discos may be directed to procure Handheld Units (HHU) for carrying out meter readings in more transparent manner; (vii) HESCO, SEPCO, PESCO and TESCO may be directed to circle wise scrutinize each unrecovered detection bills charged from July 2018 to June 2023 to validate their authenticity and ensure recovery of the same. In case it is proved that detection bill was charged wrongly, the revenue as well as the billed units be reversed and the amount appearing as receivables be adjusted accordingly. Action may be taken against the relevant SDO and XEN for violation of provisions of CSM in charging detection bills and submit the compliance report within thirty days. MEPCO, QESCO and LESCO may be directed to immediately recover the unpaid detection bills charged during July 2018 to June 2023.
The DISCOs may be directed to follow the provisions of Consumer Service Manual in true letter and spirit in meter readings, percentage checking to ensure accuracy of meter readings, issuance of detection bills and replacement of defective meters. Moreover, the Discos be directed to educate their officers/officials about NEPRA Act, tariff terms and conditions, CSM, Consumer Eligibility Criteria, etc.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023