Consumer body compels electricity company
to refund Illegal energy charges.

Ahmedabad, 26th March 2013

Consumer Education Research Society (CERS) in a major breakthrough succeeded by compelling Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd (PGVCL) to refund illegal collection of energy charges from its consumers after vigorous follow up for eight months. Thanks to an alert consumer Shri G P Thacker, President of New Kandla & Kutch Salt Manufacturers Association, Gandhidham who lodged complaint with CERS in August, 2012

Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission Passed tariff Order on 2nd June ,2012 for FY 2012-13 by increasing tariff by 10 Paise/ Unit for all category of consumers even though no increase in tariff was demanded by State Owned Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) of Gujarat. In a surprise move GERC initiated SUO MOTU petition as DISCOMs of Gujarat did not file their Annual petitions till end of February,2012. As per Tariff order new tariff was to be implemented from 1st June, 2012.

Shri Thacker sent a complaint to Mr K.K. Bajaj of CERS explaining the details that new tariff has been enforced to all HT Consumers of PGVCL with effect from date of meter reading varying from 16 -5-2012 to 21-5-2012 thus collecting additional 10 Paise/Unit from consumers for 10 to 15 days. HT Consumers normally have more than one lakh units of consumption per month. PGVCL therefore it is estimated that PGVCL must have collected more than Rs. 5-6 crores from its HT consumers.

CERS wrote to GERC with a copy endorsed to Managing Director of PGVCL protesting about this illegal collection of money in violation of GERC Supply Code Regulations and demanded refund of money to all HT consumers. As per normal practice GERC forwarded CERS letter to PGVCL for necessary action. PGVCL in its vague and casual reply stated that as meter readings are taken on fixed dates there is no provision that new readings have to be taken on 1st June to implement new tariff. GERC did not compel PGVCL to refund money and kept silence as usual. CERS further wrote to GERC and demanded use of Section 142 of Electricity Act by imposing penalty of Rs one lac on PGVCL to be recovered from salaries of MD, CE and Regulatory Cell of PGVCL. Though there was no reply from GERC but PGVCL wrote three letters to Mr. Thacker without sending any correspondence to CERS. PGVCL in its reply repeated the same story stating that their programming cannot be changed and billing carried out is correct.

CERS took this matter seriously with GERC and requested Chairman Dr. P.K. Mishra to intervene in this matter since there is a violation of Supply Code Regulations. Though belated but Senior Officers of PGVCL decided to revise the programming of billing cycle. The Superintending Engineer from Circle office of PGVCL at Bhuj wrote to Complainant vide its letter dated 8th March,2013 stating that wrongly collected excess money of HT consumers will be credited in their next electricity bills. It is strange that PGVCL has no courtesy to inform about this decision to CERS. The exact amount refunded to consumers will be known only when the amount is credited in electricity bills of such consumers of PGVCL.

CERS now requests Hon’ble Commission to direct other three DISCOMs of Gujarat to refund such illegal amount collected from all category of consumers even if their monthly electricity consumption is small. CERS fears that these Companies must have collected similar amount from Residential, Commercial and LT Consumers of Gujarat. CERS also requests GERC to warn Electricity Companies of Gujarat to treat Consumer Organisations like CERS with some respect and dignity as they are working to protect interests of consumers. They should be directed to send all copies of correspondence to CERS who is the main party to lodge complaint on behalf of consumers.

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