Complaints relate to lack of details in meter cards, delay in meter reading by assessors, Tangedco officials cite shortage of assessors as a reason

Domestic consumers of Tamil Nadu Electricity Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) are facing hardship due to various discrepancies in electricity meter readings in the city and outskirts.

Two complaints have been received from the Poonamallee Union Consumer Rights Protection Centre.

G. Periasamy, a resident of Padia Nalloor, Red Hills, was shocked when he was informed he had to pay more than Rs. 20,000 for consuming 4,110 units for the month of October, whereas his bills between February 2012 and September 2013 had been around Rs. 350.

Similarly, for Shanthi, a resident of Thiruvallur, the electricity charge for the month of July was Rs. 4,882, but during the past two bi-monthly periods of April and June, she had been paying only Rs. 580.

After these complaints were forwarded to higher officials of Tangedco, officials who investigated the matter found out that in the case of Mr. Periasamy, the meter reading was done ‘wrongly’ by the assessor and in the case of Ms. Shanthi, the meter was faulty.

Consumers also complain of lack of details in meter cards, delay in meter reading by assessors, failure to upload meter readings on Tangedco’s main server even if done promptly and assessors wrongly notifying the date of assessment in the meter cards.

These issues resulted in them having to pay their electricity bills with a penalty, the consumers said.

T. Sadagopan, a consumer activist from Pattabhiram, a system along the lines of the automated billing system of various mobile operators should be made available to consumers of Tangedco, as well.

Mr. Sadagopan complained that though the assessors are required to give details of the date of meter reading, meter consumption and amount of electricity charges, they do not give the necessary details in the cards. Even if the assessors provided the details in the meter card, it was hard to decipher them due to poor handwriting, he added.

Some consumers also complained about assessors failing to visit the homes to take meter readings. R. Ganapathi Subramanian, a resident of Hindu colony 13th Cross street, said Tangedco staff did not turn up for reading the meters in their apartment for September, but went ahead and cut power supply for non-payment of bills. The power connections were restored only when the residents paid their electricity bills with a penalty.

Taking these issues into consideration, Tangedco, in future, will be going in for low power radio frequency (LPRF) meter readings, where there will be minimal human intervention. Under the LPRF facility, the meter reading would be automatically uploaded from the electricity meters into the main servers of Tangedco, officials said.

Soon, SMS facility

Senior officials, while accepting there were some issues relating to meter reading, said shortage of assessors was one of the reasons and very soon a number of them would be recruited. The official also pointed out that Tangedco had called for open tenders for an SMS gateway service for sending messages regarding electricity charges to consumers. Once the SMS service was launched, these issues would be sorted out, they added.

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