Saturday April 13, 2024

Crackdown on power consumers using multiple meters on the cards

Power Secretary Langrial says except Karachi, less than 90,000 out of 29.6m consumers use more than 1000 kWh per month in summer

By Khalid Mustafa & Munawar Hasan
September 05, 2023
A power technician while fixing electric meters in Pakistan. — AFP/File
A power technician while fixing electric meters in Pakistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The government is all set to launch a massive crackdown on those power consumers who are involved in maneuvering of units’ calculation through multiple meters to get slab benefits and incurring losses worth billions of rupees.

Using his X, formerly Twitter, handle Power Secretary Rashid Langrial said that except Karachi, less than 90,000 out of 29.6 million consumers use more than 1000 kWh per month in summer.

The richest people using more than 1000 units have more than one meters and they are getting lower bills just because of the slab benefits.

Talking to The News, the secretary power said that the government would soon gear up a massive crackdown on those consumers having two or more than two meters to have slab benefits to ensure their bills at the lower side.

As per the data shared by him, as many as 29.662 million power consumers, excluding the K.E consumers, annually pay Rs1.735 trillion against their electricity consumption. Of them, 27.634 million consumers with up to 300 units a month use 38,623 (MkhWh) million units a year at the rate of Rs26.91 per unit and pay Rs1.039 trillion per year. However, 1.6 million consumers, who use 1-500 units per month at the rate of Rs47.73 per unit, pay Rs383 billion a year against 8,021 million units. In addition, 2,01,074 consumers use 501-700 units per month at the rate of Rs52 per unit and pay Rs132 billion annually and 1,35,634 consumers use 701-1000 units at the rate of Rs56.79 per unit and pay Rs76.2 billion a year.

However, almost 90,000 consumers, who use more than 1,000 units a month, are just paying Rs105 billion a year, which is far less than the contribution made by consumers fall in the category of 1-300 units slab.

Independent energy experts said that multiple meters were allowed for premises with two or more separate portions. For which, the premises should have separate entrances, separate gas connections and separate wiring.

Meanwhile, a senior official of Ministry of Energy (Power Division) told The News that the ministry has decided to give a serious thought to remove more than one meter at a single premise because multiple meters help in charging lesser electricity cost due to splitting of units into lower slabs. “As a first step, we will remove multi-meters installed at large users, including domestic, commercial and industrial customers,” he said.

The official apprised that most of consumers, including customers with usage of less than 200 units, got dual, triple or even more meters installed at their homes. This practice is being done with the connivance of power distribution companies’ employees, he affirmed.

Multi-metering by a single power user has been rampant without even considering it a wrong thing both by customers and DISCOs staff, the official added. According to the data shared by Power Division, the exercise of installing multi-metering is being done largely by users up to 1,000 units as difference of respective slab rates provide incentive to split their consumption through connection of additional meters at the same location.

The rate of fist slab having consumption of up to 300 units provides relatively low charge of Rs26.91 per unit against Rs47.73 rate of next slab between 301 to 500 units.

More interestingly, slab rates differ marginally from slab between 501 to 700 units and above, ranging in between Rs52 to Rs56.79 per unit. Most interestingly, rate actually reduces on usage of over 1,001 units and above by domestic consumers gradually reducing in next slabs, though a little bit.