POWER

Prepaid meters may lower power tariff, according to a circular from the Union Power Ministry

The ministry has fixed the time frame of six months for implementing its directive through appropriate changes in the relevant regulations or orders.

Consumers can soon hope for reduction in electricity bills if they have prepaid meters on their premises. This is the crux of a circular sent by the Union Power Ministry to States last week.

According to the circular, States have been allowed to approach their State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERC) for reduction in power tariff in cases “where prepayment meters have been installed.”

The reduction has been estimated as in such cases, carrying costs will come down, leading to reduced requirement of working capital for the Distribution Companies (Discoms). Further, this will eliminate associated costs involved in meter reading, billing and collection.

From the consumers’ point of view, the arrangement would allow them to pay at their own convenience, requirement and consumption.

The Union Ministry has also fixed the time frame of six months for implementing its directive through appropriate changes in the relevant regulations or orders.

The Central government’s initiative, which seeks to provide relief to consumers, is in tune with its position. Last year, the Ministry issued guidelines to all States to convert all existing consumer meters into “smart meters in prepaid mode.”

Nothing new

For the last one-and-a-half years, Union Minister of State (independent charge) for Power R.K. Singh has been calling upon the States to go for the prepaid meters within three years. The concept is nothing new as the National Electricity Policy, in 2005, had stated that the SERCs should encourage use of pre-paid meters.

In September last year, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while announcing 200 units of free power for tenants in Delhi, said the beneficiaries could opt for prepaid meters. In Rajasthan, the installation of prepaid meters for temporary supply has been provided by the Jaipur Discom in the terms and conditions for supply of electricity. In Odisha, the government has decided to have prepaid meters at its offices initially.

As for Tamil Nadu, the authorities are for the implementation of the concept in a phased manner.

At present, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation is working on providing four lakh “smart meters,” on a pilot basis in T. Nagar, a locality of Chennai.

Source
The Hindu
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