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PLN meter readings 'often incorrect' JAKARTA - State-owned power company PT PLN has acknowledged that electricity meter readings are often incorrect and give rise to unreasonable bills. It plans to implement a new system, but has warned that customers may face high bills as a result of arrears and unpaid usage as a consequence. "There will be a 'booming' of bills," Fahmi Mochtar, the general manager of the firm's Jakarta and Tangerang branch, said on Saturday.
It is public knowledge that meter readers often skip house visits and simply estimate electricity usage. Such abuses were discussed during a forum held by the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) together with PLN, the Jakarta Public Lighting Agency, the city police, observers and consumers. Wardi Lubis, a resident of Kemang Pratama, Bekasi, said that he only had to pay the monthly subscription fee in August, with zero usage of electricity. "Suddenly the next month my bill was Rp 914,000 (US$99.73)," said Lubis.
He produced several other bills showing that he paid Rp 219,000 in May, Rp 589,000 in June and Rp 160,000 in July. "How can my bill fluctuate like this when my family always uses the same amount of electricity?" Fahmi said that during October, a bar code would be placed on customers' meters. Starting November, officials would have to scan the bar code before they could enter the electricity usage figure into their Portable Data Entry (PDE) recorders. "That way, they will have to go to the houses," he said.
Fahmi said that unprofessional meter readers were being punished, with over 100 of them having been dismissed this year up to September, Fahmi said. A woman from the audience said that she found she had Rp 12 million in unpaid bills after her meter records were corrected. Fabby Tumiwa of the Working Group on Power Sector Restructuring, who attended the meeting, questioned which electricity rates would be used in calculating unpaid usage, considering that they had changed considerably over the past few years.
"How far back can PLN charge customers for unpaid usage?" he asked. Fahmi said that if possible, different rates would be used in calculating the cost of electricity bill arrears. "They will be able to pay by installment," he added. During the forum, the YLKI also reported its findings based on input received during the so-called "electricity complaint months", held from July to September. Blackouts, overly high bills and incorrect meter readings topped the list of the 261 complaints the YLKI received, 126 of which were from Jakarta and 131 from Tangerang, Bekasi, Depok and Bogor.
The foundation urged PLN to improve its complaint response system. "There are disparities between the responses to these complaints depending on who filed them, to whom, and in which forum," said Sudaryatmo of the YLKI.



Posted in General @ 04 October 2004 00:05 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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