Defective Electricity Meter | It’s billing & Replacement Procedure

Defective electricity meter

Like all other electricity supply companies of Pakistan, in Lahore division, the Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) plays a pivotal role in ensuring the delivery of electricity to millions of consumers. An integral component of this supply chain is the electricity meter, a guage responsible for accurately measuring the consumption of electrical energy. However, when these devices malfunction or become defective, it can lead to significant complications for both the consumer and the utility provider. So, it is imperative to know that what constitutes a defective electricity meter, how billing is handled in such scenarios, and the legal avenues available to consumers.

In this informative article, we’ll delve into various aspects including the definition of a defective metering equipment, how billing is handled when it is deemed defective and how it is replaced, and lastly, the legal proceedings related to it.

Definition:

As per provision of section 26 of the Electricity Act, 1910, A defective electricity meter of LESCO (Lahore Electric Supply Company) would be one that remains connected, disconnected, injured, altered or prevented from registering the amount of energy supplied or the electrical quantity contained in the supply.

What constitutes a defective meter status:

To avoid the heavy billing and fines of a defective electricity meter, you have to know first that what actually a defective metering equipment is and what are its prominent signs which should be checked. There are certain signs which are apparent from the body of the metering device or from its lights which indicates that the device is malfunctioning. These are discussed below:

Physical Conditions of body that constitutes a defective electricity meter:

The Consumer Service Manual provides the following cases of common signs and technical failures which indicates it’s defectiveness.

I) Prize bond/postal order/ ‘Meter’ security slip removed.

ii) Bond/Terminal cover seal of the ‘Meter’ broken/bogus/tampered.

iii) Terminal cover of the ‘Meter’ missing.

iv) Holes made in the KWH ‘Meter’ bodies.

v) MSB of the ‘Meter’ showing signs of tampering.

vi) ‘Meter’ hanging loose/tilted/physically unbalanced.

vii) ‘Meter’ glass broken.

viii) ‘Meter’ dead stop/burnt.

ix) ‘Meter’ sticking.

x) ‘Meter’ digits upset.

xi) ‘Meter’ running reverse.

xii)  ‘Meter’ connected on temporarily/permanently disconnected premises.

xiii) ‘Meter’ found missing at site.

xiv) ‘Meter’ found at site but no record exists in the office.

xv) Any other means which can cause interference in true recording of quantum of energy (Units) by the metering equipment.

What is indicated by the lights on electricity meter of LESCO:

lights on electricity meter

Besides the body, the turning on of its certain lights also indicates its various faults which results in effecting the billing. There are total five lights on the LESCO energy apparatus. Which are named as power, reverse, 3200 imp/kwh, neutral , earth. The purposes of these lights are discussed below:

1. Power light:

It is the one which always remains on. It goes off only when there is no power supply due to load shedding. It indicates the ‘on’ or ‘off’ status of the meter. 

2. Reverse light:

This light usually remains off. However, it turns on when some certain faults occur in the terminals. There are two types of terminals in the metering device. One is input terminal which is connected with supply lines of WAPDA/LESCO. The other is output terminal which is connected with load. This reverse light turns on if the load wires be connected with input terminal and the LESCO supply lines be connected with the output terminal. There is another situation when this lights turns on even on having correct terminals connection. If there are two electricity meters installed on one premises and if  the supply lines of any of them get connected with the other one, in that case the supply of one energy equipment will show as reverse supply on the other equipment which results in extra billing due to load on other device.

3. 3200 imp/kWh:

This light is often found turning off and on. However, the speed of it’s flickering may be different in every meter which is because of the more or less load of consumption of electricity. The light blinks for 3200 times in one hour,  If a person consumed 1000 watt for one hour, whereas, if consumption is 1000 watt for half an hour, then the light blinks 3200 times in half an hour and one unit is registered as consumed.

4. Neutral or N-missing:

Usually two wires of supply by the LESCO are connected with the metering device. One is phase wire and other us neutral. If an energy meter would not get neutral then the light of neutral or N-missing turns on. In this situation the power light goes off.

5. Earth / 🌎 used:

If the consumer use phase wire from LESCO supply, however, obtain neutral from the earth by inserting a wire in the ground. In this situation, this light turns on which indicates that their is earth leakage, or earth connection is being used from somewhere else and not from electricity registering device. In this situation, the current will pass through its body which shall be counted as load in the meter. It results in charging heavy dues and billing to consumer.

6. Fault Light:

In some single phase static meters, there is a light namely ‘fault’, which turns on in case of technical issue of apparatus which is also noteworthy in this context.

Fault light on electricity meter

In this context, if you found the lights of earth and reverse in ‘on’ condition, then you should get your metering device checked immediately because it is alarming signs which will result in huge billing if left unattended.

Replacement procedure of a faulty Meter:

If the DISCO suspects the accuracy of the metering equipment, it shall install a check-meter after informing the consumer, to determine the difference of consumption or maximum demand. In case of non-availability of checkmeter, the faulty device shall be tested at site by means of Rotary Sub-Standard or digital power analyzer. If this comparative test proves any difference, the impugned metering equipment shall be removed with the consent of consumer and replaced with a correct one after payment of assessment amount without delay.

If the consumer himself doubts the accuracy, he can approach the DISCO for testing his metering apparatus at his site. The DISCO shall proceed on such request and will issue a demand notice for challenge fees and will check the device within seven days of payment of fees.

Checking of the defective electricity meter shall be made by installing a duly calibrated checkmeter in series with or in the absence of it, through a Rotary Sub Standard or digital power analyzer accompanied by an engineer of the DISCO’s metering and testing laboratory. On finding difference, the same shall be changed immediately and due credit be given for excessive units charged by DISCO w.e.f. date of request filed by the consumer with DISCO. Only authorized employee of the DISCO will have the power to declare a metering apparatus defective.

Where any consumer gives a notice in writing to the DISCO and informs of having requested the Electric Inspector/(POI) to check the accuracy of the DISCO’s metering equipment installed at his premises, being defective or otherwise, the DISCO shall not remove or take off the impugned metering equipment from the consumer’s premises until the Electric inspector has conducted a test of it at site, in the presence of DISCO’s authorized representative, by means of a duly calibrated checkmeter installed in series with the impugned meter or through a Rotary Sub Standard or digital power analyzer and has given the result of his test.

Billing procedure of a defective electricity meter:

Where a meter becomes defective, it is actually not even possible to charge the bill on the basis of consumed units because the metering device does not even registering the correct number of units due to defect. In that case, the consumption is charged 100% of the consumption recorded in the same month of previous year or average of the last 11 months which ever is higher.

bill of defective meter

The maximum period for charging in such cases shall be restricted to three billing cycles for general supply consumers i.e. A-1 & A-II. For period beyond three billing cycles up to a maximum of six

months is subject to approval of the Chief Executive of the DISCO. The CEO may delegate its powers and authorize a committee of Chief Engineer / Director level officers to allow charging of detection bill up to six months to general supply consumers after proper scrutiny so that no injustice is done. Also for such cases action will also be initiated against the officer in charge for not being vigilant enough. For other consumer classes, the period of charging can be more than three billing cycles up to a maximum of six billing cycles. If the consumer objects payment or disputes over the quantum of the units detected by the DISCO, the

appellant authority for revision of detection bill would be the review committee of the DISCO headed by the next higher officer. The consumer will also be given personal hearing by the review committee.

According to chapter 4 of the Consumer Service Manual, in case of replacement of a defective meter, the consumer shall not be burdened with any adjustment charges where discrepancy is not attributable to his act or omission.

The impugned metering equipment shall be removed upon settlement/payment of assessed amount. In case if a correct device is not available then the multiplying factor shall be charged accordingly till the replacement with correct and defect-free one.

Legal proceedings on dishonest abstraction of electricity through defective meter:

9.1 (b) (1) of Consumer Service Manual provides that on receiving the knowledge of any defect as such, the concerned officer of Disco shall secure the faulty device and install a check meter for onward billing. He shall constitute a raiding team and declare after inspection that whether illegal abstraction of energy has or is being carried out. After inspection, he shall issue a notice to the consumer requiring him to submit written reply in seven days. If the consumer does not submit a convincing reply or if the allegations as levied are proved, the inspecting office with the approval of the next higher office will immediately serve a detection bill for unclaimed energy limited to the period of three billing months or six months with the approval of CEO previous from the date of establishment of illegal abstraction as elaborated at 9.1(c) (3) of Consumer Service Manual. 

Inspecting officer will issue a notice of disconnection along with the detection bill for payment within seven days. If the consumer pays said detection bill, his energy equipment shall be replaced without entailing any further action. 

Conclusion

 Electricity costs are much higher in our country, therefore, it is imperative that everyone should regularly check their metering equipment on above given parameters to avoid any extra billing due to technical faults in device.

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