As per various media reports, it appears that there is confusion up to the highest level in the state administration, regarding the reported very large number of complaints received by APDCL on high consumption recorded by smart meters installed in different locations in the state by the power company.
The key issue is whether all the smart meters installed were tested for accuracy in APDCL meter-testing laboratories, having instruments suitable to test smart meters. After such mandatory testing, only a very small percentage of meters generally record erroneous readings. APDCL has to duly examine and inquire into each case of a complaint on high consumption lodged by a consumer as there may be cases of manipulation recording of wrong reading etc., in the earlier period.
In this connection, I would like to share my own experience with smart meter installation. In around mid-July last, three persons came to my residence and informed me that they have come to replace my existing electric meter with a smart meter. I requested their credentials and authority to take up the work. They had none. Since I am aware of the expediency of the installation of the smart meter, I allowed them to install it, replacing the existing meter. However, I was surprised to find that the installation team left after completion of the work without providing me with any document related to the installation of the smart meter. I have noted that electricity consumption during the months before and after the replacement of the meter was quite consistent for the months of May, June, July and August 2022.
It, however, appears that there is an urgent need to improve the logistics of the implementation of the scheme. To create awareness among the consumers, the authorities may circulate a notice mentioning the advantages of the smart meter with an electricity bill in the area, where it is proposed to install smart meters before starting installation work. The persons sent to install meters (as well as meter readers) should be trained and authorized for their work and must have an adequate certificate/ permit for taking up electrical installation works. After the completion of work, the team leader may hand over to the consumer a signed completion report with meter readings of the replaced meter and the smart meter installed on the date of replacement. He should also request the consumer to check if the seal of the meter fixed by him is proper.
BE DIM LLB, Advocate
(Retired Chief Electrical Inspector-cum-Adviser, Former Consultant of Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission.)