The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has introduced an innovative plan calling on all its consumers to make payment in advance towards their estimated electricity bills up to March 2021. The customers can pay to the extent they can through digital modes and earn interest @1% per month on the advance payment. The DISCOM has stated that it has received an advance payment of ₹350 million ($4.61 million) in less than a week.
PSPCL also issued a notice stating that given the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown imposed in the country, the activity of taking readings for the domestic, commercial, and small power industrial consumers have been suspended. The notice was made public by the PSPCL in a tweet on Friday.
In its tweet, PSPCL stated that PSPCL is trying to ensure uninterrupted power supply to all consumers, including essential services.
As per the notice, to avoid electricity bills of long durations after the lockdown is lifted, the electricity bills of domestic consumers are being generated on an average basis for the consumption in the same months last year.
According to the notice, for commercial and small power industrial customers, PSPCL has come up with an innovative idea to empower its customers. The company has launched ‘Meter Reading on Trust’ facility. Under this facility, the consumers having a due date of billing nearby can upload their meter reading on the PSPCL website, and the bills will be generated as per the reading uploaded on the website.
If the readings are not uploaded, then bills will be generated on an average basis. Once the lockdown is lifted, and the actual reading is taken, the amount paid against the average bill will be adjusted. The notice further states that the bills of medium and large supply industrial consumers will be issued as per the actual reading.
This latest move by PSPCL comes as a welcome relief to consumers who are finding it hard to pay the bills during these testing times. But this also brings to light the fragile nature of the state-run DISCOMs who are finding it hard to pay the generators even when the consumers are paying the electricity bills online.
Recently, due to the ongoing lockdown, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) provisionally reduced the rate of late payment surcharge (LPS) to 6% per annum if the due date falls between March 24, 2020, and June 30, 2020. PSPCL will pay the late payment surcharge to the generating companies and Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL).
Earlier, the PSPCL allowed Prayatna Developers Private Limited, a solar power special purpose vehicle of Adani Power Limited, to inject solar power into the grid with immediate effect. The PSPCL had issued a force majeure notice several days ago, stating that it has been forced to curtail power purchase and generation due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown.
The country is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic impact of the virus is being felt across industries, which also includes the renewable sector. The power sector has been hit hard by the ongoing lockdown, which has been extended to May 03, 2020. You can check the latest updates related to the impact of COVID-19 on the renewable sector here.
Rakesh Ranjan is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, he worked in many roles as a business correspondent, assistant editor, senior content writer, and sub-editor with bcfocus.com, CIOReview/Silicon India, Verbinden Communication, and Bangalore Bias. Rakesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). More articles from Rakesh Ranjan.