Power dept. allays fear on pre-paid energy meters
Dimapur, June 2 (EMN): As Power department continues to meet with some resistance from the public particularly in Dimapur, who refuse to allow the pre-paid meters to be installed within their premises, the department clarified that the objective was not to collect more from the consumers but to plug leakages, reduce losses and achieve a more accurate measurement of actual consumption.
As a pilot scheme, the department of Power had installed about 1,100 nos of pre-paid meters in Marwari Patti area at Dimapur during 2013-14, which is successfully functioning. The scheme has now been extended to more areas within Kohima and Dimapur starting October 2020.
An update from the chief engineer (D and R), Moa Aier, stated that 10,000 nos. were installed in Dimapur and another 9,000 nos. in Kohima during the first phase.
Aier stated that the department had conducted several public consultations and meetings with the public and colony/ ward authorities regarding the issues connected with the installation of pre-paid meters. He, however, stated that the department continues to meet with some resistance from the public particularly in Dimapur.
According to Aier, the consumers were apprehensive of ‘higher bills, removal of long credit periods as with post paid meters, unwillingness to pay for their actual consumption that only a few colonies are being targeted etc.’ He stated that the issues appeared to be more of a mindset problem rather than factual.
He, however, stated that the Power sector in Nagaland cannot continue to bleed financially as at present. He, therefore, sought the cooperation and support of all citizens.
According to the Power department pre-paid energy meters would solve inaccurate billings and the resultant complications. The billing would be accurate and commensurate to the actual consumption.
It would enable consumers to know their actual consumption pattern thereby enabling them to control their usage of electricity in a responsible manner as responsible citizens.
It stated that the tariff of pre-paid consumers is lesser than the post-paid meter consumers. It, therefore, stated that apprehensions of “higher bills” are unfounded. However, it pointed out that if there were defective internal wirings and leakages, it would show as consumption. In this regard, consumers are asked to check and rectify internal wirings as it could cause fire hazard or damage to electrical equipment in the building.
As there are a lot of billing disputes in the case of post-paid meters due to any reason(s), the department stated that such dispute(s) and difficulties could be all avoided with pre-paid meters.
It added that two-part tariff (dynamic pricing) might be introduced in future to enable consumers to choose their time of consumption of electricity in different times of the day thereby economising their consumption by consuming during low tariff hours and minimising consumption during high tariff hours.
The department was of the opinion that with proper billing and collection, the financial health of the power sector could be improved and lead to the condition of power supply being improved and become more stable as capacity addition and maintenance can be supported.
It added that an increase in electricity tariff could be controlled, which would directly benefit the consumers.
As recharging of pre-paid meters are done at certain re-charge locations, it was expected that online recharging from the comfort of homes would be soon introduced.
Responding to some consumers as to why only their areas/colonies are fitted with pre-paid meters, the department clarified that all consumers would be mandatorily fitted with pre-paid meters in due course of time as per the policy of the Ministry of Power, government of India.
According to the Power department, installation of pre-paid meters has two main core objectives — reducing losses thereby improving the financial health of the power sector and improving services to the consumers.
While pointing out that Nagaland is not only the state incurring huge revenue losses due to various factors, it stated that to address the issue the government of India has emphasised on the distribution sector reform through the introduction of smart metering system, whereby human errors are reduced in the entire energy billing and accounting system. It, therefore, stated that installation of pre-paid meters is a step towards such a transformational change.
As the ongoing installation works of pre-paid meters has been suspended due to the pandemic, the department has decided to restart at the earliest possible time when the situation stabilises. It has sought cooperation and support from all the citizens.