ISLAMABAD: With a continuously shrinking demand-supply gap, the government launched on Tuesday a mobile phone application to let consumers know real-time electricity billing and supply situation of any public-sector distribution company (Disco).
Speaking at the launch of Roshan Pakistan, an Android-based mobile app, Minister for Power Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said the government focused on building generation capacity during its first four years and would now move towards consumer-oriented services and transparency.
He said it was for the first time in the last 20 years that 5,297 feeders out of a total of 8,600 had been declared loadshedding-free. The government was now giving the public access to information on live power situation that was previously available only to the minister and the secretary.
He said about 4,000 megawatts of generation capacity was now surplus in the system these days. Even in coming summers, power generation will be higher than peak demand, he added.
Power Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, who accompanied the minister, said the total capacity addition during the tenure of the current government would touch 11,000MW in June 2018 after the completion of 969MW Neelum Jhelum and 1,410MW Tarbela-IV.
Mr Leghari said the introduction of the app will ensure transparency in the power system and empower the general public to have real-time access to the energy sector’s information, like consumption, supply, billing and even the ability to calculate possible electricity bills online.
He said there would be no human interference in the Roshan Pakistan application. It will put pressure on government representatives, including the minister and the secretary, to work harder for the betterment and efficiency in the system. About 25 million meter owners will be able to see it at any point in time.
He said the application would retrieve 100pc correct information of the offices and computers of 10 Discos. “We are now picking data and information from the dashboards of the prime minister and the minister of power and taking them to the common people through this public service,” he said.
“Making this information public is for making ourselves accountable to the public. From now on, each power feeder of Discos will be on the radar of the public,” he said, adding that the system will enable consumers to get the status of their relevant feeder with regard to off hours, theft and billing. “We have brought these details to the palm of a consumer.”
An official of the Power Information Technology Company (PITC) demonstrated various features of the application. It has four key features, including the loadshedding schedule, billing information, net metering and bill calculator.
Through this app, one can calculate the amount of bill in advance. It will provide information about the past 24 hours and next 24 hours. It will also present billing information of the past 12 months and the facility to get a duplicate bill.
He said the application would also provide information about net metering capacity on a specific feeder and how much of power they could add to the feeder. Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar, wind and other energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid.
Responding to a question about overbilling, the minister conceded it was a serious issue. He said the government has been convincing all political parties for three months to amend the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power. He said the National Assembly had passed the bill that envisaged greater powers to the regulator, including the imposition of three-year imprisonment to officials of Discos responsible for sending wrong bills to clients. Its clearance from the Senate was still awaited.
He claimed a huge positive change had been brought with regard to overbilling in the last one year. As a result, there were many consumers across the country who received nil bills because they had been overbilled in previous months.
Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2017