New Delhi: With electricity bill defaults and power theft running into hundreds of crores, the Union power ministry plans to make all meters in the country prepaid in next three years from April 1, 2019. Unlike the current practice of paying power bills after the consumption, the consumers will have to buy power before using it.
The Central government may introduce prepaid electricity recharge cards similar to the ones for mobile phones. This move would also address the issue of inflated bills that many consumers complain of.
Apart from these, officials said the prepaid metres would help power transmission and distribution companies to cut transmission and distribution losses caused by power theft.
According to the ministry of power’s Urja data, around 24 per cent of power produced in the country is lost due to power theft, which pushing discoms into bankruptcy.
The power loss/theft in Telangana ranged betw-een 15 per cent and 17 per cent, Andhra Pradesh eight per cent and 11 per cent, Karnataka 14 and 15 per cent, Tamil Nadu 13 to 15 per cent, Kerala 11 to 15 per cent, Maharashtra 19 and 28 per cent, Gujarat 14 and 19 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 35 and 38 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 30 per cent, West Bengal 30 and 40 per cent, and Odisha 38 and 39 per cent.
Many power distribution companies suffer losses as people don’t pay their dues or indulge in power theft.
The installation of pre-paid meters will mean that the consumers will have to first pay for the amount of electricity they want to consumer and then use it.
Many private societies have already installed pre-paid meters for their residents in National Capital Region (NCR).
“This step is likely to bring revolution in power sector by way of reduction in AT&C losses, better health of Discoms, incentivisation of energy conservation, ease of bill payments and doing away with the paper bills," said power ministry officials.
They said that move towards smart meters is a pro-poor step as consumers need not pay the whole month's bill in one go, instead they can pay as per their requirements. Power ministry said that manufacturing of smart prepaid meters will also generate skilled employment for the youth.
State governments had earlier signed the power for all document and had agreed to supply 24x 7 power supply to their consumers. “Thus the distribution licensee will provide 24x7 power to their consumers by April 1, 2019 or earlier. Howe-ver the appropriate commission in exceptional circumstances for the reasons to be recorded in writing may grant extension in this time period,” said the Union power ministry....