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BESCOM asks for additional security deposit

Consumers are now paying a fee ranging from Rs 850 to about Rs 10,000 as additional security deposit (ASD). The fee goes up to Rs 5 lakh for commercial and industrial consumers.

The fee is calculated depending on the consumption pattern per individual per month. While Bescom is well within its rights in charging the fee, the manner in which it has gone about it has angered consumers. They claim that they should have been given at least a month’s notice as stipulated in rules laid down by the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Council (KERC).

“This is done with the view that if the consumer fails to pay the monthly bill, the sum would be adjusted against the deposit,” a senior technical officer with Bescom said. “It is a necessity as Escoms have to pay KPTCL (Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited) for the power that they supply to us. If the consumer has regularly paid monthly bills, then annual interest at the rate of eight per cent on the deposit is offered as a discount on the monthly bill.”The revision in the security deposit comes in the wake of changing lifestyle patterns — largely, an increased dependency on power-hungry electrical appliances. “Over the years, with the addition of several appliances and increased use of these appliances, many customers consume more power than they normally consume,” a Bescom executive engineer said. “If consumption exceeds the security deposit collected earlier, then we watch consumption patterns for about a year and serve them a fresh ASD notice.”

Consumers, however, claim that they should have been given advance intimation. N Chandra Shekar, city-based consumer activist, who has been asked to pay Rs 1,000 as ASD, said “As per the KERC guidelines, Escoms must give consumers a month’s notice while also providing an explanation on consumption pattern. This apart, they must also mention in the notice the remaining amount of security deposit with them, reasons for claiming ASD and calculations on how they revised the ASD. Further, they must allow people to file objections in case of wrong calculations. But Bescom has violated the rules.”

An HT (high tension) consumer from Malleswaram who has been asked to pay Rs 4,50,000 as ASD said, “The ASD is simply printed as a line at the end of the usual monthly bill. Many consumers do not even know what ASD is .Already we are affected by rising prices of essentials. How can we to pay such a huge sum now?”

"We have issued notices to all consumers who have exceeded their normal consumption through our annual assessment. The bills and notices are generated through a software depending on the consumption pattern. The billing system is tuned to that and it cannot go wrong. Either the customers would have missed our notices or in one or two cases the mistakes would have happened owing to some kind of overlapping of details in the software. But we have been issuing notices before making the customers pay ASD. They can consult their divisional AEEs for any queries regarding their bills," said N Thimme Gowda, General Manager (Revenue), Bescom.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

Picture Source: Bangalore Mirror