BESCOM Connection and Disconnection Process – For Non Payment
A Note on the Process
This note is in the context of discussions on MD BESCOM Manivannan’s wall on facebook at the following locations
BESCOM supplies electric power to consumers in eight (8) districts of Karnataka. As a supplier, BESCOM bills its customers every month for the supply of electricity. The electric meter is read between 1st and 16th of every month and for some customers it is even the 24th of the month. The meter reading date is generally the same date every month for a customer. The bill is due 15 days from the bill date. Like any agency, BESCOM has a certain number of defaulting customers who do not pay their bill by the due date. Based on anecdotal evidence collected by the author of this note, typically defaulters connections are cut approximately 7 days after the due date of the bill. In the apartment where the author lives, a warning arrives at the maintenance office in the morning and residents are given an opportunity to pay by the evening. After that, generally residents have to pay the bill and get the connection reconnected by showing proof to BESCOM.
A modification of the process has been initiated which is percolating through the system. According to that process, a sticker warning of disconnection is pasted that gives three (3) for the consumer to pay the defaulting bill. There is some debate on the location of pasting the bill (at the door/meter etc.). In the subdivision where the author lives (S7), some people report use of the meter while others do not yet acknowledge such a process as existing. Based on the responses posted by BESCOM corporate officers who posted in the facebook discussion, there is a lack of clarity on the process from the corporate office as well as practice on the field. It is not also clear if the process being followed is compliant with the requirements of the KERC codes and regulations. There are also often complaints of where consumers who had already paid the bill find themselves on the disconnection list leading to a lot of angst
To summarize the reasons for this revisit of procedures, the goal of this exercise if to
- To ensure customers who have erroneously been identified for disconnection have time to get the error corrected, saving them trouble and minimizing any ill will felt towards BESCOM
- To give bonafide defaulters who may have accidentally missed payment an opportunity to make payment and avoid disconnection.
- To re-check and comply with KERC regulations
- To identify repeat defaulters and to flag them in the system and explore options to correct their behavior
Relevant KERC Regulations
BESCOM operates under a license from the KERC. Therefore, BESCOM has an obligation to comply with the regulations of the commission. The relevant provisions are from the KERC (Electricity Supply) Code, 2004. These are listed in Appendix A at the end of this note.
The important provisions to note with relevant KERC provision number in brackets are that
- Bescom is required to give 15 days time from bill date as due date.
- Bescom has the right to charge interest on outstanding amount after due date
- Bescom has to give 15 days clear notice for outstanding amounts after due date before effecting disconnection
- Manner of giving notice is given in section 9
- Contents of such notice is given in section 9
The KERC regulations actually give a required and more generous (than current practice) template for the connection and disconnection process. As a service provider, bescom would have the following factors to consider
- To provide an incentive for customers to make payments in a timely fashion
- To identify defaulting customers and cut them off before their default exceeds their deposit
- To minimize costs of collecting default bills, as well as collection and disconnection.
- To identify frequently defaulting customers and insure further against losses.
- To indentify and support indigent customers
The recommended process for billing and providing disconnection notices is as follows
- Meter reader comes on the designated date and reads the bill
- A bill is issued (either on the spot or in few –within 4 – day time. Most bils are issued by hand (4.2a of KERC regulations)
- Due date is 15 days after bill date (4.18c)
- Four (4) days after due date (to give time for records to get processed) a first defaulter list is generated.
- A default notice is issued to the customer (by hand, like the bill). The notice should meet all the conditions given in section 9.
- Interest will be charged under section 4.19 from the due date at the rate approved by the commission.
- Fifteen (15) days from the notice should be the next bill date. That bill can clearly say “DUE IMMEDIATELY”. This would be replacement for a sticker. The disconnection can happen 3 days after that bill date.
- It is assumed that the deposit with BESCOM will cover any true default.
- BESCOM to identify customers who default more than once in any 12 month period and demand that their deposit be equal to or more than 2 X of the largest bill in the past 6 month period.
- For customers who are having disputes and are not paying bills, they will be made aware of the option of paying their bill or average of past 6 months bills under protest until dispute is resolved.
- For customers having a difficult time paying the bill, installment option under 4.18 (h) and (j) could be explored as an option.
Additional recommendations for the actual disconnection and reconnection process
- Provide an option and encourage all interactions on connections and disconnections to happen through the BESCOM call center. This will help maintain a centralized record of such instances and insulate field staff from contentious interactions. It is also a fair expectation with high telephone penetration.
- Option of approaching field staff should also be there. Field staff should be requested to encourage customers to call the call center. Field staff should call in and report the reconnection/disconnection process to the call center.
- Disconnection and reconnection fee has to be raised to cover the cost of disconnection and reconnection. KERC fees is Rs 20/-. It would be a good idea to petition KERC for an increase.
Appendix A: Extract of KERC Regulations
KARNATAKA ELECTRICITY REGULATORY COMMISSION
Notification No.B/13/04 dated 12.11.2004
(Notified in Karnataka Gazette on 02.12.2004, page nos.2096-2102)
KERC (Electricity Supply) Code, 2004
4. Billing procedures
- The Licensee shall issue a bill to each consumer for the electricity and/or other services rendered, at the consumer‘s address, at such periodic intervals as may be determined and notified by the Licensee.
- The bill shall be issued by any of the following means:
- Delivery by hand
- By post or courier
By electronic means capable of generating a delivery confirmation report, if agreed to by the Consumer;
- The consumer shall be notified the periodicity of billing, date of meter reading, bill date and due date for payment in a calendar month. The Licensee shall adhere to the schedule of prescribed meter reading date and bill date.
- The bill issued by the Licensee shall be legible and easily verifiable by the Consumer.
- Basis of the bill, unless other wise provided, shall be the meter reading. If meter is not provided to a consumer (unmetered categories), the Licensee shall prepare the bill based on the procedures approved by the Commission.
- For reasons other than those referred to in clause 5, if the Licensee is unable to base a bill on meter reading due to its non-recording, the Licensee shall issue a bill based on the previous 6 months average consumption. In such cases, the Licensee shall replace the meter immediately.
- In case the Licensee is unable to read the meter for any other reasons, (door lock, etc.,) the Licensee may provide the consumer with an estimated bill following the procedure under clause 4.6. The Licensee shall subsequently read the meter in the next billing cycle and appropriately adjust the bill in accordance with the meter reading
- The bill shall be issued within 4 days from the meter reading date and the bill date shall not be more than 4 days from the meter reading date. In the case of spot billing, meter reading and bill date shall be the same.
4.9 The Licensee shall provide and maintain with the consumer a meter card for recording the meter reading. The Licensee shall record the meter reading and date of reading in the meter card provided to the consumer.
- The consumer shall inform the concerned local office of the Licensee if the bill is not received within 7 days of specified meter reading date. The Licensee shall take necessary steps to issue duplicate bill immediately free of cost.
- In case the Licensee issues a bill which covers a period not consistent with the billing period or a period during which the consumer’s tariff changes, the Licensee must charge in proportion to the relevant periods and clearly show the relevant working details on the bill.
- In the case of new installations, the Licensee shall issue the first bill within 2 months of service. In case of non-receipt of the bill within 2 months of effecting supply, the consumer may inform the concerned local office of the Licensee and the Licensee shall arrange to issue the bill immediately.
- The Licensee shall not recover any arrears after a period of 2 years from the date when such sum became first due, unless such sum has been shown continuously in the bill as recoverable as arrears of the charges of electricity supplied.
- After payment of the bill, If it is established that the Licensee has over charged the consumer, the excess amount shall be repaid by the Licensee within two months with interest at bank rate.
Reading of meter on request:
- The Licensee shall arrange for special reading of the meter on an application by the owner or the occupier of the premises accompanied with specified fee, in the event of vacation or change of occupancy of the premises.
- The application shall be given at least 15 days in advance of the said vacation of the premises for arranging the special meter reading.
- The Licensee shall, after taking the meter reading, issue a final bill in such cases including all arrears till date within 7 days of meter reading.
- Once a final bill is issued on the basis of special reading of meter, the Licensee shall have no claim for any period prior to the date of such final bill other than the final bill amount.
- The Licensee may charge a fee for the above service as approved by the Commission.
- Bill issued to a consumer shall contain the following details
- Name and Address of the consumer, RR No. and address of the issuing office
- Period covered by bill
- Type of service and the relevant tariff applicable to the consumer
- The dates and readings of current and previous meter readings.
- Present consumption
- Other billing parameters applicable if any, such as contract demand/ sanctioned load, power factor etc.,
- Applicable charges: fixed/demand/minimum charges /energy/ taxes/ rebate/ adjustments/ /arrears
- Net amount payable
- Wheeling charges and surcharges if any to be shown separately if the Licensee provides only net work service
- The amount of arrears or credits outstanding to the consumer’s account
- Summary of payment methods
- Last date of payment with out penalty
- Details of additional charges such as interest and penalties if any
- Action for non-payment after the due date
- Contact telephone number of Consumer Service Centre of the Licensee if available or any contact telephone number for the consumer to call if they have any queries relating to the bill.
- Designation and address of authorities of the Licensee with whom complaints /grievances of the consumer to be lodged
Contact details of Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum and Ombudsman constituted u/s 42 of the Act.
- The Licensee shall provide the consumer, all information relating to previous billing period, free of charge if requested. If the request pertains to periods prior to the previous billing period, the Licensee may claim reasonable service charges.
- Bills payment
- The payment of the bill shall be normally made by the consumer at the specified local collection centre of the Licensee during the designated working hours of any working day as specified by the Licensee. The Licensee may also arrange any other facility for payment of bill for the convenience of the consumers.
- The Licensee shall specify its accepted mode of payment of bills and publicise the same for the benefit of consumers.
- The Licensee shall give 15 days time from the bill date for payment of the bill by the consumer.
- If the due date of payment of bill falls on public holidays, the next working day shall be treated as the due date.
- The consumer shall pay the bill in full through any of the means specified by the Licensee.
- The Licensee shall issue a receipt to the consumer for payment as proof of payment.
- In case of dishonour of the payment instruments of the consumer, the Licensee may initiate action for disconnection for non-payment. The Licensee shall have the right to resort to any other legal proceedings against the consumer in such cases.
- If a consumer informs the Licensee of any difficulty in paying the arrears bill in full, the Licensee may offer an installment payment option to the consumer. Grant of installment facility is without prejudice to payment of interest on belated payment.
- The Licensee shall have the right to deny an instalment option to a consumer who has defaulted in payment of periodic bills in the previous 12 months.
The Licensee may, after giving not less than 15 clear days notice after the due date, disconnect the supply, if the consumer fails to pay the bill by due date.
- In case of belated payments, interest as approved by the Commission for the actual number of days of delay from the due date may be charged by the Licensee.
- If a consumer wishes to make advance payments towards electricity charges, he shall be allowed to do so by the Licensee and the amount so paid shall be adjusted accordingly against the bills raised subsequently on the consumer. The Licensee may allow incentive if such advance payment is made for 12 or more months.
- The Licensee may adjust the payments made by the consumer in the following order of priority :
- Interest on electricity tax arrears
- Electricity tax arrears
- Interest on electricity charges arrears
- Electricity charges arrears
- Current month dues
4.22 Disputes in the bills
- Any error in the bill shall be rectified by the Licensee within 24 hours if no additional information is required, if approached by the consumer.
- On the request of the consumer who disagrees with the bill amount, the Licensee may review the bill within 7 days of the request if additional information is required, . as specified in the KERC (Licensee’s Standards of Performance), Regulations 2004. In such circumstances the consumer shall deposit a sum equal to the amount as under clause 7.3. before the review.
- The Licensee may issue a revised bill and appropriately adjust the bill amount if the review establishes that the bill is incorrect. If in the review it is found that the consumer was overcharged, the amount overcharged along with interest at bank rate may be adjusted in the subsequent bill or refunded as agreed to by the consumer after the review.
- If the Licensee establishes that it has under charged the consumer either by review or other wise, the Licensee may recover the amount undercharged from the consumer by issuing a bill and in such cases at least 30 days shall be given for the consumer to pay the bill.
- While issuing bill under clause 4.24(d), the Licensee
- shall specify the amount to be recovered as a separate item in the consumer’s next bill with details or as a separate bill with details for the amount.
- shall not charge interest on the amount under charged
- may allow instalment option
- While communicating the decision on the review of the bill, the Licensee shall advise the consumer in writing his right to prefer an appeal against the decision of the Licensee to the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum and further to the Ombudsman as provided in KERC (Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum and Ombudsman) Regulations 2004.
4.25 If the consumer fails to pay the bill within the due date, the Licensee may charge interest on the bill amount as approved by the Commission.
7. Disconnection of supply by Licensee
- The Licensee shall not disconnect supply to a consumer except in the following circumstances:
- At the Request of the Consumer
- Mandated the Licensee to do so by a person with legal authority to issue such mandate
- When the Licensee is entitled to do so under an agreement with the consumer
- The Licensee reasonably believes that the consumer has contravened the provisions of the Code which entitles the Licensee to disconnect the supply
- The Licensee reasonably believes that failure to disconnect may or likely to cause a health hazard or safety risk or damage to property or to the consumer or to any person;
- The Licensee reasonably believes that the consumers’ installation does not satisfy the applicable rules or any other reasonable requirements prescribed by the Licensee.
- Reasonably knows that security deposit provided by the consumer has become insufficient or the consumer fails to provide security deposit as provided in the appropriate Regulations.
- Non payment Under clause 4.18),
Tampering, distress or damage to electric plant, electric line or meter under clause 5.4 and/or as provided under clause 6.5
- Before effecting disconnection under clause 7.1(b) to 7.1 (i), due notice under the manner provided in clause 9 shall be given to the consumer by the Licensee
7.3 The Licensee shall not disconnect the supply to the consumer under clause 7.1(h), if the consumer deposits under protest an amount equal to the sum claimed from him or the electricity charges due from him calculated based on the average of past 6 months, which ever is less, pending disposal of any dispute between him and the Licensee as provided in proviso to Section 56(1) of the Act .
8. Reconnection of supply
- If the disconnection is under clauses 7.1(g) and 7.1(h), and the consumer has settled the dues with the Licensee, the Licensee shall reconnect the consumer within the time stipulated under KERC (Standards of Performance) Regulation 2004.
- The Licensee shall immediately reconnect the consumer if the Licensee reasonably believes that omissions and commissions which led to the disconnection of the consumer under clause 7.1(e) and 7.1(f) stand duly remedied.
- The Licensee may charge a consumer a fee for reconnection as provided under the approved schedule of charges
9. Notice to the consumer
- A Licensee shall ensure that the notices issued under this Code to a consumer are in accordance with the Code and :
- In writing and are expressed in plain language either in Kannada or in English
- Specify the reason for the notice and likely action by the Licensee
- Request the consumer to contact the local office of the Licensee if required
- Any notice to the Consumer under this Code by the Licensee shall be served in any of the following manner
- Sent by registered post, under certificate of posting, by courier or other similar means or
- Delivered by hand to the person residing at the consumers address
- Affixed at a conspicuous part of such premises in case there is no person to whom the same can, with reasonable diligence, be delivered.
- If the notice is under clause 4.18(j), the Licensee shall
- Specify that the consumer has defaulted the payment by the due date
- notify the consumer that failure to pay the amount due will entitle the Licensee to disconnect or restrict the supply of Services to the Premises;
- Outline the availability of payment options under clause 4.18(b)
- outline the installment option under clause 4.18(h) if applicable
Supply of Electricity
The State of Karnataka
Notified in Karnataka Gazette dated: 17.6.2006
With First amendment vide Notification No. K.E.R.C./COS/D/07/08 Dated: 14.3.2008 published in Karnataka Gazette dated: 20.3.2008 and Second amendment vide Notification No. K.E.R.C./COS/D/07/10 Dated: 1.7.2010 published in Karnataka Gazette dated: 22.7.2010
- DISCONNECTION /RECONNECTION OF POWER SUPPLY BY LICENSEE.
The procedure as specified in K.E.R.C. (Electricity Supply) Code, 2004 (Annex-4) shall be followed.
- Disconnection of power supply shall not be effected on General Holidays and Sundays.
- Disconnection of power supply shall be effected as far as possible before 1.30 P.M. and re-connection shall be effected on the same day of payment.
- Disconnection shall be normally effected at the Licensee’s cutouts in the Consumer’s premises. If it is not possible or effective, it shall be effected at the pole / distribution box.
- If the Consumer produces clear proof of payment at the time of disconnection, the installation shall not be disconnected.
- If the arrears is Rs.10/- or less, the installation shall not be disconnected.
30.09 RECONNECTION CHARGES per Installation
Reconnection Charges shall be as follows:
Single Phase Domestic installations under Tariff schedule LT 1 & LT2 (a)
Rs.20/-per Installation .
Three Phase Domestic installations under Tariff schedule LT2 (a) and Single Phase Commercial & Power installations.
Rs.50/-per Installation .
All LT installations with 3 Phase supply
other than LT2 (a)
Rs. 100/-per Installation.
All HT& EHT installations
Rs. 500/-per Installation.
Note: If the monthly bill is less than Rs100/=, reconnection charge shall be Rs. 5/= only.