Tashi Dema

The Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) has suspended two meter readers for dereliction of their duties, according to the management.

In a clarification the corporation issued yesterday on Kuensel’s story, it stated that the meter readers were suspended after finding 82 instances of meter reading error in five specific areas in the capital. They were suspended based on the preliminary findings, and as per their Service Rules and Regulations.

“The meter reading errors were attributed to the two meter readers who were specifically assigned these areas for monthly meter reading,” the clarification stated.

BPC, the clarification stated, conducted a detailed assessment on the electricity bills of Thimphu consumers following complaints on the high electricity bills during the lockdown from customers.

Verification was done for 9,501 customers or about 20 percent of the 46,481 customers covering several areas in Thimphu.  The assessment included trend analysis of the consumption pattern and cross-checking with the actual meter reading.

BPC, meanwhile, has formed a full-fledged investigation team to re-verify their preliminary findings for the next course of action. “The further course of action against the suspended meter readers shall be taken based on the findings presented by the investigation team as per the provisions of the BPC Service Rules and Regulations.”

The management also stated that decisions on other meter readers will depend on the findings of the assessment and severity of the dereliction of their duties.

The Office of the Consumer Protection (OCP) and Bhutan Electricity Authority (BEA) asked BPC to reassess the block tariff application and provide the forgone subsidy benefits to all affected consumers across the country for the first lockdown, waive off the late payment penalties and facilitate part payment till June this year.

BPC officials said that based on OCP and BEA’s recommendations, the block tariff application assessment has been initiated and the applicable benefits will be adjusted from their future bills.“With regard to the penalty waiver, the adjustment is already implemented in the April 2021 bills.”

The management said that part payment for the bills of December 2020, January, February and March 2021 has been given and the payment due date has also been extended to June 30. “The same has been notified through the media.”

They said the corporation opened a customer complaint redressal unit at Thimphu electricity division (ESD) from February 25 this year in response to the high bill issues to address and provide personalised services, where 3,903 customers lodged complaints of high electricity bill.

As of April 15, BPC received 457 written complaints and BPC has been visiting locations and conducting meter tests. “For digital meters, data from the meter were downloaded and customer were explained about their consumption pattern. Based on this clarification, 315 customers dropped their complaints,” according to the clarification.For analogue meters, the meters are tested and 66 customer complaints were resolved. “BPC is continuously resolving the issues.”

BPC also opened an online complaint forum through their website on April 7 as an additional platform for customers to lodge their complaints and received 89 complaints. BPC resolved 53 complaints so far.