Prepaid electricity meters likely for utility companies

Trigger for proposal is the ?2,474.5 crore owed to Bescom

Government offices, water supply installations, and street lights could soon be switched to a prepaid electricity meter system if the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) has its way. Government agencies owe ?2,474.5 crore in all to Bescom and that is why the company has decided to cut its losses while it can.

There are a total of 1.10 lakh water supply connections and street lights across Bescom’s jurisdiction, which covers eight districts.

Of this, Bengaluru has 19,933 street lights and 13,539 water supply installations.

“The decision to go for prepaid meters was taken in view of accumulation of huge arrears and non-payment of monthly bills on time,” a senior Bescom official said.

Besides these, as many as 2,412 government offices that fall in the LT3 category will also have to make the shift to prepaid meters once the proposal is approved.

In 2015–16, the interest levied by Bescom on delayed payments for power consumed by these installations, including irrigation pump sets, was ?326.62 crore.

If the prepaid system is implemented, the procedure of accrual of interest on dues will cease and will help improve the financial position of the company. Dues will be adjusted against the deposits paid by the agencies operating the street lights and water supply installations.

Prepaid meters will help do away with arrears. Disconnection and re-connection will be automated and manpower will not have to be deployed for meter-reading and collection of dues.

The proposal has been placed before the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) for approval.

“We are ready to implement this system,” said P. Rajendra Cholan, managing director, Bescom.



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