Households slapped with an inflated power bill for the second time
K-Electric came into hot waters in early April when customers found that the average billing method applied by the company during the lockdown imposed on March 22 was overcharging them.
The electricity bills for the month of March came at a time when the Sindh government had requested utility providing companies to give some relief to citizens in the wake of the lockdown.
In his lockdown address, the Chief Minister of Sindh Murad Ali Shah requested companies including K-E to adjust bills under Rs5,000 for the month of March over the next 10 months. The request was, however, rejected by the company and it instead decided to extend the due dates for bills under Rs4,000 to April 10, 2020.
Despite this many customers complained the bills received were much higher as the company had implemented average base charges.
After repeated complaints and eventually direct orders from the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), the power distributing company reversed its decision and began the actual meter-reading process in some localities.
However, three months into the health crisis, the electricity providing company has come under fire once again. And for the same reason, as customers find their bills for the month of May being surcharged.
Recently, a member of the group Question Updates wrote that many residents of his area found their bills to be over Rs10,000 which was more than they had expected.
Many others also reported that their bills were overcharged even when their unit consumption was less, while some did not even have air conditioning running at home and yet their bills stated a higher unit count.
Reason for surcharge on bills
This has caused disarray among many customers. Despite repeated complaints the K-E or NEPRA have not issued a statement explaining the reason behind the surcharge.
The lockdown in Pakistan has also been lifted and the cases of the virus have exponentially increased with the total count standing at 101,173 infected and 2,032 deceased as of June 7. A significant portion of the population has also lost jobs or had to face pay cuts owing to the global pandemic.
At such a time, a relatively higher electricity bill can add to the woes of the population.
In the absence of any official statement by the two power generating companies, a member of the group explained the reason behind an inflated bill.
According to the member, the surcharges are a result of an extension in the billing period. Instead of 30 days the company took a reading after approximately 40 days. As a result, the average unit consumption increased, leading to an increase in the overall bill.
Whether the explanation can be trusted depends on the breakdown of the bill for individual households. However, it is important for the Sindh government as well as the relevant authorities to provide answers to a population that is already under stress.