Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday took note of the complaints on social media that some consumers had received vastly inflated power bills. He said the state’s electricity authority had ordered power firms to be transparent and address consumer complaints immediately.
“Taking stock of the rising number of consumer complaints related to exorbitant electricity bills, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has directed power companies to show transparency in its billing procedures and redress the consumer complaints immediately,” the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Office tweeted.
On June 28, actor Taapsee Pannu had tweeted that her bill for June was Rs 36,000, far higher than the Rs 4,390 for April and Rs 3,850 for May. She also said that she had been billed for an apartment that no one uses.
Following the actor’s tweet, several Twitter users complained about receiving inflated bills.
Anand Malepu, who stays in a one room-kitchen apartment in Mumbai’s Prabhadevi, told NDTV that his bill for June was four times higher than that for May. “I haven’t used as much electricity as I did last month,” he said. “Even if I did, the bill should have been twice as high. My May bill was Rs 860, but now it has come to Rs 3,420, which is four times higher.”
However, some power companies said they had not issued inflated bills.
Adani Power issued a statement that said it had under-billed consumers for March and April, as meter reading activities had been temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The company said that the bills it had served for March and April were averages of the amounts for December, January and February, based on general consumption.
“Upon getting actual meter reading, to pass on the slab benefit to our consumers, the total consumption for the period March 20 to May 20 have been uniformly allocated for the entire three-month period,” the company said. “Your May-2020 bill includes the consumption of May-20 as well as differential consumption owing to estimation of consumption in March-20 and April-20.” The company said the differential amount has been mentioned in bills under the head “net previous balance”.
On June 22, Tata Power had issued a press release about how it had been generating bills during the lockdown. It said the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission itself had asked the power companies to generate bills for March and April based on the average consumption for the three preceding months. “After the Government declared Unlock 1.0, Tata Power started meter reading activity in green and orange zones and now bills based on actual readings are being generated,” it added. “Unlock 1” – measures to relax the lockdown, were initiated on June 1.