PESCO is progressing to computerised meter readings to minimise corruption and eliminate complaints of overbillinG
If you think your electricity meter has been misread and subsequent bill has thrown your monthly household’s budget out of whack, then Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) has the solution for you.
The utility is slowly progressing to computerised meter readings to minimise corruption and eliminate complaints of overbilling.
“We have three plans in the pipeline to overcome this problem. We are going towards automation,” Pesco Public Relations Director General Shaukat Afzal told The Express Tribune. “Our aim is to end all complaints of over billing. With 2.7 million consumers across K-P, only 1.2% of our complaints are regarding over billing.”
Analogue to digital
Currently a Pesco official, also known as the ‘meter reader’ visits each individual electricity meter with a notebook in hand. The official notes the meter reference number and corresponding units in his notebook. The data is then transferred to record registers.
A ‘key punch operator’ (KPO) then enters the data from the register into a computer. The billing department is thus able to access the data and generate monthly billing reports.
According to Afzal, Pesco’s future plans include handheld units (HHU), photo printing, and computerised meters. “We are currently running HHU as a pilot project in Gulbahar, Peshawar and Abbottabad,” he said. Later the projects will be replicated across the province.
HHU are electronic gadgets that pair with each electricity meter and wirelessly transfer the units used onto the device.
With this, data can be easily accessed by the billing department without delay.
Photo printing began as a pilot project in Hayatabad a few months ago. “Meter readers take a photo of each electricity meter and synchronise their cameras with the computers. The bills are calculated with the readings taken through pictures,” explained Afzal.
The director added computerised meters allow for direct synchronization with Pesco’s computers, which will directly receive units from the meters and subsequently calculate bills. “However, this project will still take a few years to be implemented while the first two methods will soon be launched province wide,” said Afzal.
However, not all of Pesco’s innovations come off with flying colours.
Digital meters which were rolled out three years ago run faster than the old ones. Residents had complained that these new meters resulted in skyrocketing bills, resulting in them turning off all electricity, even fans.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2015.