Maha power watchdog appoints panel to probe Adani complaints
The state electricity regulator Merc has appointed a two-member fact-finding committee to look into consumer complaints to ascertain the reasons for the sudden upsurge in consumption as well as bills of Adani Electricity's consumers in the megapolis.
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (Merc) on Friday asked the fact-finding committee not to just ascertain the reasons for the consumer complaints but also to recommend corrective measures to ensure that such sudden hikes in bills do not recur.
"The commission, prima facie, feels that the increase in billed consumption for October appears to be unduly high at this year of the year. There is also a need for a more detailed enquiry to verify the explanation that Adani Electricity Mumbai has submitted to us," Merc chairperson Anand Kulkarni told reporters here.
The fact-finding committee will ascertain what has been the impact of weather conditions on energy consumption of other distributors in the megapolis, especially on the low-end residential consumers and the practices being followed by other distributors with regard to the levy of fuel adjustment cost (FAC), particularly for claiming past dues and issuing bills on average consumption basis.
On December 4, following media reports and consumer complaints, the Merc had sought explanation from the company for the sudden increase in electricity bills.
In its reply, the company, which began operations recently after taking over the business from the Anil Ambani group-owned Reliance Infra, had said the increase was due to prolonged high temperature in the month due to which 15 percent more units were consumed during the period.
In addition, the company also claimed that there were past dues towards fuel adjustment cost, which were recovered in the October bills.
However, Adani Electricity admitted that about 1.10 million residential consumers out of the total 2.7 million got bills with about 20 percent increase.
It also said billing was done on average basis since there was a strike by billing employees during the initial period of change in the ownership of distribution licence from Reliance Infra to Adani Electricity from August 27 to September 1, pressing their old demand with the new operator.
Further, it said since meter reading of consumer was not available for around 3.53 lakh residential consumers, the same were issued on average (assessed) consumption basis.
The regulator Friday also directed the discom to verify consumption of metered consumers who have been billed significantly higher than their average intake in the past.
"If any excess billing is noticed, the same should be refunded to consumers along with admissible interest as per the applicable regulations," Kulkarni said.
Adani Electricity should also organise special camps to address consumer complaints related to excessive billing and provide adequate publicity about such camps, the regulator
"All these measures are meant to ensure that all distribution licensees, including Adani Electricity, shall not increase the power bills beyond the rates and levies approved by the commission," Kulkarni said.
Meanwhile, in a statement, an Adani Electricity said, "we welcome the statement from the Merc taking cognizance of the facts provided by us about the billing issues for a section of customers primarily due to higher consumption and shifting of slabs."
The company further said it is committed to its customers and will continue to follow all guidelines and tariff norms laid down by the regulator. "We remain completely open and transparent to the fact-finding committee appointed by the Merc. We will continue to respond to all our customers who have any issues with billing," it said.
(With inputs from agencies.)