Paying for power: LESCO sends inflated bills to consumers

Published: June 21, 2017
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PHOTO: EXPRESS

PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: To conceal line its line losses and inefficiencies, the Lahore Electricity Supply Company (Lesco) has sent inflated electricity bills to thousands of consumers in various subdivisions of the provincial capital, The Express Tribune learnt on Tuesday.

A number of Lesco consumers complained the company overbilled them by 20%-30%. Nadeem Baig, a resident of Township area, highlighted the company had sent him an inflated bill of Rs9,540 against his usage of four energy saver lights and three fans.

“We are a family of four. We don’t even have a room-cooler or air-conditioner and live in a rented house. The power utility has sent us an exorbitantly high bill ahead of Eidul Fitr. Now instead of Eid preparations, I am forced to visit Lesco offices to get my bill cleared,” he maintained.

Another consumer, Shahid Muzamil, said, “I neither have a furnace nor an oven in my house, but Lesco has sent me an electricity bill of Rs13,600. When it comes to uninterrupted electricity supply, no power company in the country is capable of providing it. However, all the electricity companies are busy fleecing consumers by overcharging them right, left and centre.”

Shahid claimed Lesco had a whopping 15% of line losses, including electricity theft and system inefficiencies and poor recoveries. He said it was routine practice in public sector utility companies to overbill consumers instead of optimising systems for improved efficiency.

Lesco official statistics show that despite the public hue and cry, the company has failed miserably in reducing line losses.

Data highlights the company’s line losses are hovering between 15% and 16% in the summer and 8% to 9% in the winter.

Data also indicated that company losses increased this summer when compared to the corresponding period last year.

Most power distribution companies, including Lesco, have recently introduced various innovations such as mobile meter-reading, smart metering and net metering etc. The objective is to bring transparency and enhance efficiency.

However, a large number of consumer complaints indicate most of these methods have failed to produce the desired outcome or the system is being manipulated for obvious reasons.

On the other hand, a Lesco spokesman said the company is continuously working to improve system efficiency. “There might be some loopholes in the system but Lesco, as compared to the other power distribution companies in the country, is in a good position.

“I can understand there might have been a few cases of wrong billing, but one should understand there is always a chance of human error. These mobile meter-reading devices are being operated by humans. Sometimes, they mistakenly scan the wrong meter as there are dozens of the devices stacked on the same electricity pole in certain places,” he remarked.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2017.

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