ISLAMABAD: Though the consumers of electricity complain mostly about over-billing and increased units being shown as consumed and others related to electricity meters installed by power companies, no third party or government institution tests the standard/quality of these meters prior to installation in the country, it was learnt reliably.
Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), the only government body under the Ministry of Science and Technology which is assigned the duty, as per rules, has never tested and certified these meters during past over 10 years.
Despite being one of the non-food mandatory items to be approved by PSQCA since 2007, the consumers are being billed via the uncertified electricity reading meters installed by Discos, Gencos and K-Electric. PSQCA, which is primarily responsible to check the quality and standard of electric items like bulbs, PVC cable, wires and others, lacks the basic facilities and equipment to test power meters.
According to an official at PSQCA, the authority has not set up a laboratory for such testing. As per rules, all manufacturers of electricity meters must get their products approved by PSQCA.
However, since the authority lacks the required facility to check the set standards and quality of meters, the manufacturers usually sell the electricity reading machine to power companies without the third party verification.
“Though there are private facilities for testing these meters if the manufacturers and power companies wish to check the quality, however, there must be a government agency to ensure the standard of the electric items,” said the official.
According to sources, the consumers of electricity are usually left at the mercy of power distribution companies whenever they complain about faulty, speedy and defective meters, for which they are billed excessively. There are hundreds of cases in litigation regarding overbilling, meter readings, and faulty or tampered meters.
“Interestingly the testing authority of faulty or substandard meters is also the power companies, against which the consumers complain,” they said adding that the consumers have no option but to approach the courts or bow down to the demands of a power supplier if they are charged with meter tampering or power theft by the power companies.
Not only the consumers but also power companies face losses if the electricity meters are defective or not running as per the set standard, said the sources. Majority of complaints regarding meter readings are reported in Karachi where K-Electric is alleged to overbill the consumers through speedy and defective meters installed by the company, they added.
When contacted, Media Adviser of PSQCA Rehmatullah Memon said that the authority has issued notices to all manufacturers of the electricity meters asking them to get a license of PSQCA and manufacture the products as per the standards set by the authority. The standards set by PSQCA are similar to international standard, he said, adding that the arrangements for setting up the laboratory have also been made.
Replying to a query, Memon said that a number of complaints have been received so far against the installation of smart meters by K-Electric, which according to reports are monitored by the company remotely. PSQCA has also issued a notice to K-Electric in this regard, he added.
According to him, WAPDA and other power supplying and distribution companies were also asked to ensure purchase of PSQCA certified meters but they have not followed the rules during the past over 10 years.
According to experts, to check if the meter is working normally and the customer is billed as per 1Kw/h, a customer can test the meter by running it for an hour with the consumption of a bulb of 1,000 watts. “If the meter shows change of a unit during the one hour period, the accuracy of the device and its reading is confirmed,” experts said adding that for self-testing of the meter, the noting of the meter’s reading before and after the experiment is needed.