Hundreds of domestic consumers, whose electricity meters were assessed in June before the complete lockdown was imposed on June 19, are shocked after receiving the electricity bill. The bills were issued for domestic consumers for the two bi-monthly cycles of April and June. Several consumers complained the non-assessment of meters was causing severe hardships in the form of high electricity bills.
The lockdown, which was announced in the State from March 24, was partially relaxed for a brief period from June 1. However, due to the spike in the COVID-19 cases in the city and three neighbouring districts, complete lockdown was enforced from June 19. During the partial relaxation of lockdown, Tangedco asked its officials to take up door-to-door meter reading in the city. Prior to this, Tangedco had announced that domestic consumers should pay the previous month cycle (PMC) bill for March, April, May and June. It had issued a model bill calculator based on the regulations of Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) whereby the average units consumed for the two bi-monthly cycles (for four months) would be calculated and based on the electricity tariff, the amount would be worked out. The consumer would have to pay the electricity bill after deducting the PMC paid for April.
M. Somasundaram, a consumer activist in Tondiarpet, said Tangedco had failed the domestic consumers in not taking door-to-door meter reading. He said it should have been carried out even during the lockdown. He pointed out the economic hardships the consumers faced when an accumulated electricity bill has to be paid for two or three bi-monthly cycles at one go.
Vasanthkumar, a resident of Nungambakkam, was shocked when he received a bill for ₹34,384 despite paying ₹15,442 in April. His said the bill statement was confusing as it showed the assessment was for June 2020 and the units consumed being 8,010. He was billed ₹49,726 and the amount to be paid was ₹34,384.
A senior electricity official, responding to this complaint, said the consumer’s average consumption in the same bi-monthly period of April and June last year was 2,560 units and 3,330 units. Whereas this year as meter reading was not taken from March, the consumer’s total meter reading for the two bi-monthly reading of four months from March to June was 8,010 units, which is not abnormal considering the lockdown announced from March 24.
His bill for 8,010 units worked out to ₹49,826 and after deducting the previous month cycle amount paid for April of ₹15,442, the net payable amount was ₹34,384.
Most of the domestic consumers’ main complaint was the lack of any details of the number of units consumed, the calculation of the bill for four months, and the net amount to be paid after deducting the PMC.
Regarding this complaint of the absence of any details in the electricity bill, a senior official said it is not possible to send detailed statement, as there are lakhs of consumers in the city alone. He said the section officials have been directed to place the model worksheet and also to provide all billing details to those consumers having grievance regarding the electricity bill.