Pay before using electricity

Pilot project for prepaid power meters begins September  

By Rajil Menon
Published: Tuesday 15 June 2010

Shops and homes in select areas of Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik would soon have to pay in advance for the electricity they use. This follows the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (merc) approval for introducing prepaid electricity meters on a pilot basis. The state’s electricity distribution company will install 25,000 prepaid meters to begin with.

Customers using these meters would need to buy electricity using a card. The card has to be recharged when the meter shows low credit. “The meters will be installed free of cost in shops and residences where electricity usage is comparatively low. We have called for bids and will start installing the meters from September,” said Ajoy Mehta, managing director of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (msedcl).

Second (vacation) homes in places like Lonavla will be among the first to get prepaid meters as their power consumption is erratic and it is difficult to maintain accounts in such places, said Ram Dotonde, msedcl spokesperson. Pre-paid cards are expected to encourage consumers to use less electricity. msedcl had moved a plea before the regulatory commission last December seeking permission to install 600 prepaid meters in the homes of their employees and consumers who opt for the scheme (see ‘Smart cards to buy electricity’, Down To Earth, February 15, 2010). The commission while approving the scheme in April-end, directed the distribution company to increase the number of meters from 600 to 25,000 for wider coverage. The pilot project’s estimated cost is Rs 17 crore.

“The project would run for a year, after which we will compile a report and submit it to merc,” said Dotonde.

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