Last year, amid complaints about hefty electricity bills, some residents moved the Madras high court saying Tangedco’s methodology to calculate power consumption during the Covid-triggered lockdown was arbitrary and unjust.
Now, a study by Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) and CEEW (Council on Energy, Environment and Water) suggests that Tangedco’s white meter card for electricity bills provides inadequate information on consumption and tariffs when compared to bills in other states. There is a dire need to redesign power bills to provide detailed billing information, it says.
Electricity bills are key tools for enabling consumers to interact with the utility and various stakeholders in a transparent manner, it adds.
Tangedco had argued that the huge bills were due to people spending more time at home.
The study, ‘Making electricity bills consumer friendly’ by Pavithra Ramesh, Prateek Aggarwal and Kanika Balani, says sharing information about consumption patterns, energy conservation and energy efficiency can help manage power demand optimally. “While consumption and tariff details in a bill enable consumers to be informed about the utility, details about energy mix, grievance redressal and energy efficiency tips create space for greater consumer engagement.”
The study, which collected data from 250 respondents in nine TN districts, found that most consumers have low awareness of billing information as they primarily rely on white meter cards, which offer less information than online account summaries.
While 96% of respondents knew the first 100 units were free on a bimonthly basis, one-third were unsure how the slab-wise tariffs applied after subsidy deduction and 87% of those aware about the break-up of charges had access to the online summary.