ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Energy (Power Division) will update its transmission system by March 31, 2018 to end low voltage issue throughout the country.

State Minister for Power Abid Sher Ali informed a parliamentary panel on Tuesday that the federal government has given a deadline of March 31, 2018 to all power distribution companies (DISCOs) to end low voltage problems being faced by domestic, industrial and commercial consumers throughout the country.

The committee meeting was held under the convenership of Mian Tariq Mehmood here at Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDCL) head office.

The state minister said that a monitoring system has been placed to fix the impediments for smooth supply of electricity. He claimed that there has been improvement in power transmission and distribution system during the last four years.

The committee invited chief executive officers (CEOs) of power distribution companies (DISCOs) to give briefing on the implementation status of recommendations of the committee regarding over-billing to consumers.

Heads of major DISCOs claimed that they will achieve 100 percent mobile reading metering by January 31 to end over-billing.

The CEOs of Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) and Faisalabad Electricity Supply Company (FESCO) briefed the parliamentary panel on efforts being made to address over-billing complaints by power consumers.

Briefing on the implementation status of standing committee’s recommendations of October 24, 2017, CEO LESCO Wajid Ali Kazmi claimed that LESCO has converted to 100 percent mobile metering and an estimated 25,000 defective meters would be replaced shortly.

In remedial measures, he said that the management will complete process by January 31, 2018 for providing on spot meter reading information through SMS service to registered consumers. “Over-billing complaints have reduced by 50 percent after mobile meter reading and SMS information,” he added.

CEO FESCO, Engr Mujahid Islam said that FESCO has converted to mobile metering to a large extent, adding mobile meter reading and SMS will curb the issue of over-billing.

The convener committee criticized LESCO for hanging power cables in Lahore that not only look bad but also endanger lives of residents and passersby. He further criticized the DISCOs for not giving compensation on installation of heavy voltage transmission lines (HVTL) at private property.

Secretary Power Division Naseem Khokhar suggested that a guideline be provided to all DISCOs but first they (DISCOS) will carry out surveys of their respective areas to identify such private properties affected from HVTL. The state minister also endorsed the suggestion of the secretary power.

Earlier, Chairman National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) revealed that the government provided compensation on such properties.

Abid Sher Ali blamed the provincial governments for their failure to stop encroachment and mushroom growth of illegal housing societies where issues of hanging electricity wire are common. He said his ministry is ready to address the wiring system if funds are provided.

Abid Sher Ali rejected the recommendations of the committee that war and flood affected areas should be exempted from payment of power arrears. He said the committee should refer the matter to provincial government of KP as NEPRA does not allow providing such kind of relaxation for specific areas.

Earlier, an official of Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (PESCO) informed the committee regarding poor recoveries of electricity bills in some parts of Peshawar and Bunnu where electricity theft cases are very high. He said that police are also not ready to cooperate in recovering the arrears from such areas.