12,21,370 defective meters erode financial base of Kerala State Electricity Board

As the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is busy pursuing its energy conservation initiatives, the 12,21,370 defective energy meters of single- and three-phase consumers across the State are eroding the financial base of the board.

A list drawn up by the board on March 15 shows that single-phase consumers top the list with 11,77,276 defective meters, followed by three-phase consumers with 44,094. The State is facing acute power shortage and the board is said to be making an all-out bid to check pilferage and reduce the transmission and distribution loss to the minimum. The defective meters are being cited as a potential means for power pilferage and the drain goes rather unchecked.

Distribution network

The board has split its distribution network into South, Central, and North circles. The South circle comprises Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, and Kottayam districts, the Central circle consists of Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, and Thrissur, and the North circle Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, and Palakkad districts. The Northern circle has the highest number of 5,41,363 single-phase defective meters and the Central circle the highest number of defective three-phase meters, 19,882. The Southern circle has 2,34,783 single phase and 9,800 three-phase faulty meters.

The system in force for recovering compensation from consumers with defective meters is very ineffective. On detecting a faulty meter, the board takes the average of the power consumed during the previous 10 months and levies it as compensation. This system has come in handy for errant consumers to escape unscathed. There are complaints that many consumers have been using the defective meters as a cover for power pilferage. The crackdown in such cases has not been effective.

Fresh connections

Applicants for fresh connections are now forced to buy meter at their expense. Official sources told The Hindu here that the procedures for floating tender to procure new meters were in a preliminary stage, and it would take at least a year to complete the procurement process. Till then, the consumers with faulty meters will have a field day. The drain on power and revenue are feared to debilitate the concerted efforts said to be made to reduce the transmission and distribution loss.

The monthly power bill of the board has touched Rs.770 crore. Since power is being distributed at a subsidised rate, an effective metering system is imperative for recovering the revenue due from the consumers.

If the metering system flounders, it will rock the financial foundation of the board, but replacement of faulty meters has not got due priority so far. An action plan has been drawn up for the process, but it has set its target as October 31 this year, the sources said.

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