New bills were calculated by first taking the new reading (after lockdown) and subtracting it from the last reading. From this amount, the average bill paid earlier was subtracted.

Spike in EB bills KSEB Chairman clarifies high tariffs as Oppn calls for protest
news Power Friday, June 12, 2020 - 21:43

In light of continuing concerns regarding the spike in electricity bills, Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEB) Chairman NS Pillai provided an explanation on Friday. He explained how the charges were calculated during the lockdown when meter readings could not be taken, and how this was later adjusted in the electricity bill.

“The tariffs charged by the KSEB are decided by the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission. There are two categories of consumers: those who pay monthly bills after readings of 30 days are taken and those who pay bi-monthly bills after readings of 60 days are taken; (their) monthly average (is) calculated and then multiplied by two,” he explained.

“Since lockdown began on March 24, KSEB staff could not take meter readings of consumers. So according to the Kerala Electricity Supply Code, considering the ‘door-locked period’, the average of the last three bills were calculated and sent to people. However, these needn’t be correct since during the lockdown, people would have spent more time at home, which would result in higher consumption of electricity,” said the KSEB Chairman, adding that the average door-locked bill that was first sent would be less than the actual bill (in most cases). 

He said, “Once the lockdown relaxations were made, meter readings were taken again and bills were newly calculated. The extra amount, if any, from the average bill earlier given, would be added to the new bill.”

KSEB officials, including Pillai, had earlier given a number of explanations, but there were still growing concerns on the exorbitant electricity charges.  

The new bills were calculated by first taking the new reading (after lockdown) and subtracting the last reading from it. From this amount, the average bill paid earlier was subtracted.

“The monthly bills were calculated soon after the lockdown rules were relaxed. However, there was a delay of five days in calculating the bi-monthly bills. This would mean the consumers needed to pay for the use of five extra days. In such cases, when complaints are made to the respective electrical section, the money would be adjusted in the next month or be refunded. If it is still unresolved you can send a WhatsApp message to the Chairman’s number given on the KSEB website,” Pillai said.

The problem comes, Pillai explained, when the telescopic tariff changes to non-telescopic tariff. KSEB follows a slab system in which a consumer using up to 250 units per month will have a telescopic tariff which is considerably less than the tariff charged for those who use more than 250 units per month. Due to the lockdown, the average middle-class family that uses up to 250 units per month, would likely have used 20% to 50% more than usual, and this would have increased the tariff, Pillai said.

Lights off Kerala

Meanwhile, the Congress-led Opposition is organising a ‘Lights off Kerala’ protest on June 17 against the unprecedented ‘hike’ in the electricity tariff. People have been asked to switch off the power for three minutes at 9 pm, said a top leader.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told the media on Friday that this peculiar situation has arisen because during the COVID-19 lockdown, the electricity meter readers of the Kerala State Electricity Board were not able to reach the homes of consumers to take the reading and give the bill.

“Since the billing rates are in telescopic nature, this delay in meter reading when done subsequently saw the bi-monthly electricity bill jump, causing heartburn to many. This issue was raised on numerous occasions but no action has come so far and hence, we are forced to stage this protest,” said Chennithala.

(With inputs from IANS)

Read: Lockdown heroes: How Kerala State Electricity Board employees rose up to the challenge

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