Discoms not ready to install prepaid energy meters for all

Plans of the Union Ministry of Power to do away with the issuance of energy consumption bills by replacing conventional energy reading meters with modern prepaid meters in the next three years across the country are likely to be a non-starter in Telangana until the Centre chips in with financial assistance.

Although the two power distribution companies (Discoms) in Telangana – TSSPDCL and TSNPDCL – have taken up installing prepaid energy meters in over 56,000 government offices and installations under Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), they are expressing inability to extend it to other categories of consumers, particularly the domestic and commercial sectors, due to paucity of resources for replacing the existing meters with prepaid ones.

“Each prepaid energy meter costs anything between Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 10,000, and we don’t have resources to bear the huge cost involved in replacing about 1.15 crore consumers in the two categories. We have written to the Union Ministry seeking financial assistance for taking its plans forward, but there has been no response so far,” a senior executive in one of the Discoms said.

Under IPDS, with which prepaid energy meters are being installed in government/ local bodies’ offices, 60% of the expenditure is being borne by the Centre as grant, 30% provided as loan to Discoms and 10% as the contribution of Discoms.

Grant assured

However, they have been assured of another 15% grant, 50% of the loan component, provided implementation of the scheme is completed by September 15 this year.

“Introduction of prepaid energy to domestic and commercial consumers will be of great help to Discoms as it will rake in instant/advance revenue by doing away with issuance of bills after a month and delay in payment. Besides, the energy spent in giving notices for default in payment, disconnection and re-connection after getting the payment could also be saved,” Director (Commercial) of Southern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Ltd., T. Srinivas told The Hindu .

The modern prepaid meters also have multi-mode options with the facility to change the calibration in the event of any change in tariff and facility to operate it both as prepaid and postpaid. They also have an option for extending the supply for 48 hours even after the prepaid amount is exhausted by pressing a button provided for the purpose. The connection would get automatically recharged for 48 hours based on their average consumption.

Officials of TSSPDCL stated that they have already installed about 10,000 prepaid meters out of a total target of 26,500.

Similarly, 4,550 conventional meters have been replaced with prepaid ones in TSNPDCL out of the total 29,500 so far. They have plans to complete the target by August-end, officials of the two Discoms stated.

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