The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) is optimistic its newly inaugurated Energy Laboratory system set up to monitor operations of electric utility companies will reduce consumer complaints by about 50 percent.
According to the PURC, the lab will enable it to improve its monitoring of quality of service and also assess the integrity of meters used by the regulated electric utilities.
The laboratory, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art stationery reference meter test bench is designed to test up to five electricity meters simultaneously.
This will allow the PURC to timely resolve challenges with wrongful billing by using electronic means that will not require the regulator to manually examine complaints.
“This system is more technologically advanced. With this system, it is so swift. In terms of timely resolution this system is very efficient. I believe that with this system it will cut down about 50 percent of the complaints we get from electricity consumers on metering challenges”, Executive Secretary of the PURC, Mami Dufie Ofori assured.
She disclosed that the PURC on Friday October 9, 2020 completed the laboratory through its contractors Alpha TND Limited with the Commission’s own funds.
Justification for new system
Ms. Dufie Ofori stated that even though the previous system has served the Commission for a long time, it however lacked some of the capabilities of the reference standard meter test bench—which includes the ability to test meters with higher accuracy limits.
Citing some examples, Ms Dufie Ofori stated that the new laboratory system will help the commission test insulation resistance, high voltage, no load, meter constant and Meter accuracy among others.
She explained that all these tests are crucial in calculating the bills of consumers to avert the exploitation of ordinary people.
She was hopeful the new system will also provide reliable data to check utility companies to improve delivery to their customers.
“This system will enable the commission carry out random meter sampling tests and assert its independence and impartiality in carryout its regulatory function”.
Speaking to the B&FT, the General Manager of Alpha TND Limited, Bachchoo Singh said the company is already working with some major power distribution companies in Ghana such as NEDco and the Electricity Company of Ghana.
“We have operated in many countries such as India. Here in Ghana we have done tests for ECG meters and NEDCo meters,” Mr. Singh stressed.
He maintained that the system has a high accuracy test result with the capability to prove the integrity with meters.
Free Electricity to lifeline consumers
Touching on government’s social policy of providing free electricity to lifeline consumers to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups, Ms. Dufie Ofori said the Commission has received many complaints from consumers, suggesting that they are unable to benefit from the subsidy.
She pointed out that the subsidy is for consumers who consume less than 50 kilowatt of power in a month.
She however urged the general public to file complaints anytime they feel shortchanged by any utility operator for the matter to be resolved