Special Correspondent

Existing centres will double up as ‘holiday collection centres’

Ahead of change, ATM installed on Anna Salai

ECS method being tried out in Chennai North zone

CHENNAI: In the next few months, power consumers in Tamil Nadu will be able to pay their bills according to their convenience, even on holidays, if proposals put forward by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) come through.

Ahead of the introduction of the scheme, the TNEB has installed an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) on Anna Salai and has been carrying out trials for the last one month. Similarly, the Electronic Clearing System (ECS) method is being tried out with banks’ help in the Chennai North zone.

Additionally, the existing collection centres of the TNEB would double as ‘Holiday Collection Centres’ on Sundays and second Saturdays. The employees have agreed to put in extra hours of work and the management has decided to pay them accordingly, TNEB chairman S. Machenderanathan told The Hindu on Monday.

Regarding the ATM machine, TNEB Member (Accounts) S. Kathiresan said: “We have been carrying out trials internally and the system is working well with regard to cash payment. When additional money was deposited, the system credited the balance back into customer’s account. But, it has some problems regarding cheques as the details have to be filled in by the consumers and even a small error would lead to discrepancy.” Mr. Machendranathan took part in the commemoration and handing over ceremony of BEST (Billing of Energy Services by TNEB) Phase II that would enable power consumers to pay their bills at any collection centre in the State.

TNEB is the first electricity board in the country to achieve 100 per cent computerisation, it was stated.

The BEST project was completed in two phases. The first phase interlinked 456 collection centres across nine regions in Chennai and the second phase interlinked 1,725 collection centres across eight regions. About 95 per cent of the solution is based on wireless technology and 5 per cent of leased lines to meet the last mile solution, said R. Vijaykumar, Gemini Communication Ltd., the technology partner.

“The third phase calls for interlinking both urban and rural centres, so that customers can pay the bill from anywhere in the State. The back-end is ready. Interconnectivity is still an issue in remote places. This should be sorted out in the next three months,” said Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veeraswami, whose speech was read out in his absence.

Mr. Veeraswami said they would install computerised monitoring systems at the sub-stations located in industrialised areas to identify electricity theft. With regard to introduction of hand-held machines to issue power bills to consumers instantly, Mr. Machendranathan said currently 2,000 hand-held machines are being used by officials and it was decided to purchase 8,000 hand-held units, for which a proposal is likely to be placed before the Board shortly.