THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Electricity consumers may soon be able to generate bi-monthly e-bills on their own phones in the comfort of their home, with the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) working on a mobile app to help customers self-record their meter reading. According to KSEB chief PRO Ram Mahesh, the Covid-19 spread and the need for social distancing had prompted the Board to come up with such a solution.
"At present, our staff is unable to visit houses in containment zones, hotspots, and other demarcated areas for the meter reading. They would instead telephone the consumer to know the reading. We are trusting the consumers," Ram Mahesh said.
However, reading the meter by themselves is an uphill task for some people, especially senior citizens or those who have an advanced electronic meter at their house. The advanced meter displays the consumption data as well as other figures such as the connected load, all back-to-back. "This would make it confusing and difficult for some people to read. In such cases, we depend on the previous figures to find an average and prepare the bill," he said. The Board has made a video tutorial, which is available on its website and Facebook page, that instructs consumers on how to read the meter.
The KSEB had faced severe criticism recently after several people were slapped with hefty bills after the lockdown. These bills were calculated on the basis of previous average consumption. The Board hopes that the new app would put an end to such complaints. The app will also connect the consumer to the online payment system.
The Board is also mulling ways to ensure that the consumer does not cheat. "Some mechanism like uploading a photo of the reading should be put in place. This is still in the concept stage," he said. The Board's IT department has been entrusted with the task of developing the app.