Surprised by your electricity bill this month? Here’s what TNEB says

TNEB CHARGES DURING THE LOCKDOWN

Self-reporting of meter readings is only allowed for industrial and commercial connection holders. Pic: Pixabay (CC BY : SA 2.0)

The rapid spread of the Coronavirus pandemic across the country has forced it into a lockdown that has lasted over a month now. During this time, other than essential services, all other activities have been suspended. The pandemic has also put many in a financially precarious situation with job losses and pay cuts.


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Central and state and local governments have taken cognisance of the difficulties faced by the public to offer some concessions on dues such as loans, property tax dues, water tax dues and electricity bills. 

In line with this, and also partly due to operational hurdles, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) has decided to charge the same amount as in the previous billing cycle for the present cycle as well, and offer some relief to those running commercial operations.

If your bi-monthly electricity bill is much less than you anticipated during the lockdown, this is the reason and here’s what you need to know.

Why is the bill amount due the same as the previous cycle?

For the billing cycle that falls during the lockdown, TNEB has decided to charge customers the same amount that they paid during the last cycle. This is because the EB staff has been unable to calculate the meter readings since they cannot visit houses during the lockdown period.

Does this mean the remainder of the bill amount has been waived?

No. The concession is only applicable during the lockdown. After the lockdown, the accurate meter readings for this billing cycle will be determined and the amount due will be adjusted with the payment that has already been made. The revised bill will be added to the next billing cycle after deduction of subsidy for 100 united for each cycle.

How can electricity bills be paid during the lockdown?

The officials of TNEB have encouraged residents to avoid visiting their offices as much as possible and pay the dues online. Those who are unable to pay online may visit the office, but they are advised to pursue this only as a last resort.

Can you set up online payment for EB now?

Yes. The online payment option can be activated by visiting the website of TNEB by following the steps listed here

Can advance payment be made in order to avoid paying a huge amount in the next cycle?

Yes. After you have cleared the current dues, the website offers an option to pay in advance for the coming cycle. The amount paid will be adjusted with the actual dues when the next billing cycle is completed.

Does this apply to both residential and commercial connection holders?

The change in the billing method is applicable only to residential connection holders. Since most commercial establishments were shut due to the lockdown, their dues are likely to be much less than the amount paid in the previous billing cycle. 

With businesses inoperational, many would be short of cash. As a result of a representation made by industries to the EB, the EB has decided to allow commercial connection holders to self-report the meter readings to their respective Assistant Engineers by sending a photo of the reading. The bill amount is then calculated based on the actual consumption for the month.

Here’s a quick guide to checking your meter reading:

Will power connections be snapped if dues are not cleared?

Authorities from the TNEB say that since the beginning of the lockdown, no power connection has been cut even if payment could not be made due to the difficult circumstances faced by the people; this consideration will continue until the lockdown is lifted.

How can those living in containment zones pay the bill?

Those living in Chennai’s 200+ containment streets have been advised to avoid stepping out. If a resident of the containment zone wishes to pay their electricity bill, they may do so online (as described above).

If online payment is not an option, they may reach out to the corporation officials stationed at their zone for assistance.

Embrace online payment

Palani Vel, Superintending Engineer said that the TNEB has attempted to ease the burden on the public and its staff through this move. “We have had our staff coming in to work from various parts of the city passing through checkpoints. We decided to follow this method so as to not have them visit houses during the lockdown and expose themselves or the public to any risk of the illness.”

A smart metering system that would allow for TNEB to register meter readings automatically could have prevented this situation. But the project’s limited pilot in T Nagar has come to a halt due to COVID-19. “We had just kicked off the project with the meter installation that would have allowed us to take readings remotely. But it will have to be resumed only after the lockdown now,” said Palani Vel.

He also urged the public to embrace online payment wherever possible. “Only around 40% of the total customers pay online. There has been a small uptick in that number since the lockdown but we are hoping that more people will take to online payments as a result of the situation we are in.” 

For any further questions, you can reach out to the Assistant Engineers in your respective areas for clarification and assistance.

** TNEB clarifies

The calculation for the two billing cycles and slab rates as clarified by TNEB.

On May 8th, TNEB provided certain clarifications with regard to the charges and slabs as can be seen above. To sum up:

  •  The accurate reading for the current and next billing cycle will be ascertained by taking the meter reading at the end of the next billing cycle, by when lockdown restrictions may be eased.
  •  The total number of units consumed over the four months will be divided by two.
  •  The slab rates are then applied to the figure arrived at for number of units consumed during each cycle.
  •  Subsidy of 100 units is applicable to the unit readings in each cycle.
  •  The amount already paid during the lockdown will then be adjusted in the final amount due.

** Article updated on May 9, 2020 with clarification from TNEB


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About Aruna Natarajan 126 Articles
Aruna is a staff reporter at Citizen Matters Chennai. Apart from writing, she enjoys watching football. She tweets at Aruna_n29.

16 Comments

  1. Why did they charge more than last month. They should have waived off the payment. Now they will charge same as last month but my consumption is less. Then I have to pay more. As usual a loot

  2. EB bill payment fails to IOB support from my BHIM. Please update BHIM add IOB support

  3. Sir,I’m residing in rental home and paid April month EB bill of the amount same has Feb 2020. Now I’m vacate the hone, how can I get the refund amount if my usage is less than the Feb 2020 meter reading.

  4. Due to lockdowm, all residents electricity consumption is high when compared to last cycle, since all residents will do self reporting of meter reading only beneficial to residential users otherwise all residents users will pay huge amount in the next cycle since more than 90% of urban area users will have consumed more than 500 units and charges will be accordingly. This will affect financially all residential users in this crucial situation.

  5. Any bill will be prepared on 17th and calculation will be done and amount will be calculated.should we chk the meter and take photos on 17th and send it to the.pl clarify

  6. Thanks for the details. May the consumers use and help the government and be stay home and stay safe during this pandemic.

  7. With varying consumption pattern quite possibly the meter readings taken in subsequent periods with the accumulated figure may cross 500 units forcing the consumers to pay at a higher tariff. Is there any solution?

  8. I noted the reading on 28/3/20, 490 units , and told them to write this reading in the card, I will pay line. They refused to write the reading taken by me which is higher by 60 units than the previous cycle. They wrote 430 units and I paid online . This 60 units will get added up in the next cycle, then my slab will sky racket and may end up paying huge amount

  9. Rupay cards are not accepted for online payment.
    Please include this for online payment.

  10. But the cumulative reading will push the total units consumed to the higher slabs and hence will lead to higher bill amount than if calculated on bimonthly basis.

  11. Good explaining. i hv a prob to report. Because the last meter reading was taken on 14/3 instead 10/3 the rate got shoot up and were to pay 2000+ instead 1000+ now if party is asked to pay as per last reading he is penalised. any solution to this

  12. In TNEB electricity bill if we exceed above 500 unit we have to pay 6.6rs per unit. Due to lockdown surely sum of 3months increases above 500units as they can’t calculate the units for 2month. So it will burden all the consumers with more bill.

  13. Hi Madam, good information about TNEB billing and payments,
    I am suggesting that even house meter readings allowed to send SMS by the consumer, and the billed amount may notified via SMS by TNEB, all we need to register a mobile no. and email ID.

    All payments can be done by online, and random inspection can done by TNEB staff.

  14. Jan and Feb are comparatively cooler months than March & April. Former Readings will naturally be lesser than Latter period. i.e.200 previously and actual now 360 units for March and April. Now, Lockdown and work at home/ Schools Holidays. But taken only same 200 for March and April inspite of giving Actual Readings to EB on time after Complete Lockdown in Chennai saying Anna Salai office had automatically done it. Now Not taken units of 160 carried forwarded to next period. Now, we have only 340 units in spare instead of 500 units to escape Different Tarriff Slab Rates beyond 500 units for no fault of Consumers. Will EB Department average the units consumed for 4 months and charge the consumer at below 500 units slab rate.

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