Till now, only 650 consumers in the city — less than 1% — have opted for the scheme. There are around 3.7 lakh electricity consumers, and 2.5 lakh of them have smart meters installed by DHBVN as part of its smart grid project. Among other facilities, smart meters offer the option of prepaid billing.
The discom offers a 5% discount on the monthly energy bill to consumers who switch to prepaid billing.
The meters have an internal communication module which provides wireless data connectivity, enabling DHBVN to remotely disconnect power supply in case of bill payment default or any other violation.
Any consumer planning to switch to the prepaid option first needs to download the ‘Smart Meter’ application on their smartphone. The app will ask for the consumer’s phone number to register for the switch. Consumers can also call the toll-free number 1912 for instructions. “When prepaid meters are activated on a large scale, annual auditing of energy consumption will become faster and more accurate,” DHBVN superintending engineer (smart meters) Manoj Yadav said.
Officials explained that smart meters help the power department minimise aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses and identify pockets where it is incurring losses, enabling it to take corrective measures. For consumers, the prepaid option minimises disputes related to billing and helps consumers keep an eye on their electricity use. “Users can check the daily power consumption and regulate it accordingly. If the balance is low, consumers will start getting reminders to recharge the account. The entire thing is like charging a prepaid mobile phone connection. You pay for what you use,” Yadav added.
Pradeep Agarwal, a consumer who has opted for pre-paid billing, said he has leased out his house and prepaid billing has reduced disputes with tenants. “Earlier, some tenants left the house without paying the electricity bill. With prepaid billing, this problem has been solved,” Agarwal said.
Consumers can recharge their meters using the Smart Meter app. Energy consumption can be monitored daily, which will help consumers control energy use to keep bills in check. They will also receive alerts for low balance and no auto disconnection will take place on holidays.