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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Nepra figures out Lesco overbilling

Power regulator has asked management to submit complete sub-division wise data of monthly bills

By Our Correspondent
February 26, 2024
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) sign can be seen on a building. — APP/File
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) sign can be seen on a building. — APP/File

LAHORE: The Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) was found involved in issuing excessive bills to consumers in initial findings of the National Electronic Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA).

While initiating action on the charges of overbilling in the LESCO region, the power regulator has asked the management to submit complete sub-division wise data of monthly bills. The development finally brings LESCO’s excessive billing under the scanner of the regulator as it reprimands top LESCO management over systematic practice of excessive billing. Last year, Power Division, Ministry of Energy, constituted a committee to review an inquiry report of NEPRA, which was released on December 4, 2023, regarding the matter of excessive billing by distribution companies (DISCOs). The NEPRA findings include mismatch of meter reading with actual usage, missing meter reading images, shifting of categories to higher slabs and extension of billing cycles beyond 30 days. An independent and impartial committee headed by Irfan Ali, former Secretary Ministry of Energy, also found distribution companies involved in the practice of issuing bogus bills to consumers. The report stated that there were 381,510 defective meters and LESCO stood second in charging consumers average bills with the highest share. In its latest directive to LESCO, NEPRA has sought complete data on overbilling from all divisions of the power utility. The regulator has indicated that strict action would be taken against staff involved in practice of excessive billing. The LESCO chief has been asked to bring facts before the authority regarding issuance of inflated bills.

Nepra has sought an explanation from the LESCO chief on the allegations of concealment of over-billing. It may be noted that LESCO mainly issues consumers estimated bills based on monthly average, which is highly inaccurate. Consumers complained that they had to pay excessive amounts due to inflated bills while their actual usage were far less. On the other hand, LESCO on Sunday held a ceremony to honor what it called best-performing LESCO officers. The power utility arranged a grand ceremony to acknowledge officers with best performance and present them with appreciation certificates and awards. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Executive Officer, LESCO, Eng. Shahid Haider acknowledged the services and performance of the officers and hoped that they would continue to bring further improvements in the working of LESCO. He added that LESCO is a role model and he had a deep commitment to it.