Lucknow, Feb 14 : A study conducted by a Delhi-based think tank has found that only 39 per cent of the households in Uttar Pradesh are metered, billed, and pay their electricity dues.
In the report shared on Thursday, the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) said that the survey, conducted in collaboration with the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP) in the summer of 2018, covered 1,800 households in 90 villages (rural) and 90 wards (urban) in the state.
The 10 surveyed districts include Aligarh, Ambedkar Nagar, Banda, Ballia, Budaun, Kaushambi, Mau, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, and Sultanpur.
Four out of Uttar Pradesh's five public discoms operate in these districts.
The study says that with government announcing 100 per cent household electrification in the state under the Saubhagya scheme, newly connected households may place greater financial burden on electricity distribution companies (discoms) due to poor metering, infrequent billing, and inefficient collection of dues.
"These currently account for far greater losses to discoms vis-a-vis losses on account of hard electricity theft due to hooking of wires, unauthorised electricity usage, and meter tampering," an official said.
Brahm Pal, Director (Commercial), Madhyanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (MVVNL), said such surveys are needed to understand consumer satisfaction and awareness.
"The findings can also be used to design strategic approaches to educate consumers about electricity bills, tariff orders, prevention of electricity theft, and financial health of discoms," he added.
Vikas Chandra Agarwal, Director (Distribution), Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC), said: "In Uttar Pradesh, infrequent and inaccurate billing is one of the major causes of consumer dissatisfaction.
The survey conducted by CEEW recommends improving consumer satisfaction and using technology for billing.
This could reduce human intervention leading to an efficient and punctual billing process."
"I also find the survey findings very helpful for both discoms and regulators as they provide insights to consumer perspectives and way forward for discoms."
Karthik Ganesan, Research Fellow, CEEW, and lead author of the study, told IANS that the challenges for Uttar Pradesh are in managing a large system with varying degrees of capacity at different levels of the electricity value chain.
He said only 19 per cent households in rural Uttar Pradesh were metered, billed frequently, and made timely electricity payments in full.
"With 100 per cent household electrification, policymakers must now focus on sustained revenue generation along with improving duration and quality of power supply.
"It is equally important to communicate to consumers that the discoms are committed to service delivery and cost recovery.
Our study helps better understand the discom-consumer relationship in the state and the way it manifests in supply outcomes for the end user," Ganesan said.