Govt Considers Scrapping Faulty Meter Reading System


LAHORE: In response to growing consumer dissatisfaction, the government is contemplating abolishing the flawed pro rata meter reading system, which often removes electricity consumers from the protected category or pushes them into higher billing slabs despite their actual monthly consumption remaining within the category.

Sources indicate that the Power Division and other relevant authorities are actively reviewing the meter reading system. “We are evaluating the pro rata system due to numerous consumer complaints about overbilling,” a senior official from the Ministry of Energy told Dawn on Tuesday. “If the system, introduced in March, is found to be detrimental to consumers, we will definitely discontinue it,” the official added, requesting anonymity.

Data shows that the percentage of domestic protected consumers—those using up to 200 units—increased from 69.38% in April 2023 to 73.14% in April 2024. Similarly, this percentage rose from 68.84% in May 2023 to 73.59% in May 2024, although it decreased to 59.15% in June last year and 60.42% this year.

The pro rata system calculates monthly bills based on 30-day consumption. If the meter reading period ends before the 30th day, the remaining days’ consumption is averaged, often leading to inaccuracies. For instance, if a reading is taken on the 24th of the month, consumption up to the 30th is estimated, potentially inflating the bill.

An official from Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) noted that only 1% of Lesco’s five million domestic consumers fell out of the protected category. However, consumers argue that the system is fraudulent, used to cover up line losses by inaccurately reporting meter readings.

A consumer detailed an incident where the meter reader took a reading on June 26 but recorded it as June 24, leading to erroneous billing. “I lodged complaints but received no response,” the consumer said, urging an investigation into the alleged scam.

The government is expected to make a decision on the pro rata system shortly.

Story by Khalid Hasnain

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