Smriti Kak Ramachandran

‘Charge consumers only for actual consumption’: DERC

Discoms if ever issue a provisional bill will have to issue an explanation to the consumer

They have also been barred from issuing provisional bills for more than two billing cycles

NEW DELHI: There is more relief in store for the Capital’s power consumers beleaguered by discrepancies in the billing process.

The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission has taken a stern view of the current practice of issuing provisional bills to consumers by the city’s power distribution companies and issued direction that the consumers be charged for actual consumption.

Directing the discoms to refrain from issuing provisional bills, the DERC has also laid down guidelines to be followed. Taking suo motu cognisance of the practice, the regulator has deemed it “not correct” and in a letter to the three discoms -- BYPL, BRPL and NDPL -- said the discoms cannot draw up provisional bills indiscriminately.

“It has come to our notice that the discoms have been issuing provisional bills to consumers. The practice is not correct because the bills are generated on the basis of the previous actual consumption of the consumer and does not take into account the seasonal variation,” said a DERC official.

He said the DERC has now laid down specifics for the discoms to follow if they have to issue provisional bills. “The discoms will have to issue provisional bills only in rare cases. And when they do, they will have to issue an explanation to the consumer why the bill is not based on actual consumption. The reason will have to be printed in bold on the bills in the section meant for important notices,” the official said.

The discoms have also been barred from issuing provisional bills for more than two billing cycles.

The DERC has also made it clear that the provisional bills will be generated on the basis of the consumption during the corresponding period of the previous year.

“If a discom wants to generate a provisional bill for consumers for the month of December 2009, the bill will have to be generated on the basis of the consumption in December 2008, not on the basis of usage in July or August 2009. In case of new connections, where a consumer’s old data is not available, the discom will have to generate the provisional bill on the basis of the average of the entire period for which the data is available,” the official explained.

The fresh guidelines issued by DERC will become applicable for all provisional bills generated after September 1, 2009.

“All the consumers who have been issued provisional bills after September 1 will have to be given fresh bills based on the guidelines. The consumers should be served amended bills and the amounts settled,” the official said.

The order comes as a huge relief for scores of consumers who have been slapped with provisional bills in November and December drawn on the basis of their consumption in the peak summer months of June, July and August. “I have been issued a bill for Rs.12,000 for the period of November-December, when the consumption is far less than the summer months. Though I have already approached the local BSES office, I am yet to hear from them,” said a consumer in the BRPL-served Nizamuddin area.