Over 158,000 consumers in Uttar Pradesh, who faced a power disconnection ranging from 2 to 24 hours on August 12, are st to receive compensation of Rs 100 , after the state regulator took suo moto charge of the issue
The August 12 disconnections in Uttar Pradesh which affected 1,58,000 houses with ‘smart’ meters is finally a little closer to closure. The state regulator, Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC)As it turned out, this was no ordinary outage, being a remotely activated ‘disconnection’ actually, caused by mismanagement at the distributor end. The cut placed the smart meters installed in all the houses firmly in the spotlight.
While power was restored gradually over the day, the damage the incident did to perception around smart meters and their management was significant. That is one reason the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC), in suo moto proceedings it initiaied on the matter, had sent notices to the states key power entities, which includes the UPPCL, the state’s four discoms, and the Kanpur distributor .
Not surprisingly perhaps, the response was poor, with almost all the respondents passing on the buck, blaming other parties contracted for the fiasco. Incredibly, in their defense, the discoms claimed protection since there is no provision in the statutory and regulatory framework for UP for cases involving smart meters. Specifically for UPPCL, the regulator took umbrage to the fact that the notice sent to the managing director was not even responded to directly, with the Director in the firm finally responding.
The UPERC bench, after going through the responses, pointed out that the response from UPPCL and the others showed “total apathy and grave callousness” to the regulatory directions. ” It is time that the senior management owned up to their responsibility, instead of abdicating it to their vendors/suppliers/private parties”, it added.
Taking exception to the the terming the disconnections as a ‘disruption in supply’ the bench said it was a a clear attempt to brush off responsibility. The commission also blamed the UPPCL for the breach of data privacy, against its instructions, that the disconnections had shown up.
Pointing out that the most basic requirements of law, like a 15 day notice period before any disconnection, offer enough reason to pull up the discoms, the UPERC bench went on to propose a compensation of Rs 100 per consumer with a further Rs 50 per day for delays beyond a day. The respondents were given till Sep 3 to show cause against this , if at all. The discoms had claimed that almost 94 percent of the connections had been restored in the first 6 hours.
Incidentally, the director of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), Venkatesh Dwivedi, had tweeted days later to say that the state heads of EESL and L&T had been placed under suspension for dereliction of duty. EESL has been spearheading the smart meter push across the country.In all the cases, the smart meters started displaying ‘disconnection due to non-payment of monthly arrears’ as the reason for the power snapping off.
Smart Meters promise to significantly improve the discoms’ billing efficiency and reduce losses. UP’s MoU with EESL envisages replacement of 40 lakh conventional metres with smart meters and as many as 10 lakh smart meters have already been installed.