Saturday, May 21, 2022

BPC moves to restore confidence by sorting billing problems

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has announced that they expect to have substantially reversed the causes of unmanaged estimation of bills by end of April 2012. Over the past two years, BPC has made some of its customers foot for ‘wrong’ electricity bills.

“The corporation has experienced challenges arising from incomplete customer meter information in the billing system. However, we are finalising the updating of meter information in the billing system to reduce estimation,” said Jacob Raleru the Chief Executive Officer of BPC.

Raleru said BPC will achieve this through the ongoing process of ensuring that all meters are captured in the billing systems that as many meters as possible are read during any one billing cycle and identifying accounts that have received estimated bills for more than two consecutive billing cycles.

He said in instances where customers have been over charged their account will be credited with the appropriate amount and, on the other hand, where customers have been undercharged they are requested to make good. Raleru said in situations where customers are not able to settle the corrected bill at once they are offered relaxed payment terms.

BPC replaced various business systems it had with a single system to achieve better business planning and data integrity and the new billing system has since been fully implemented and is operating according to what was specified when it was procured.

The new system was implemented to integrate different systems used for billing, accounting and connection costs while the other system, the Hot Water Load Control system was implemented in towns and cities using smart meters as part of the Demand Side Management.

Raleru said the new system has brought with it tangible benefits such that the management of the billing function has now been centralised, allowing customer billing queries to receive focused attention.

In addition, it is now possible to have one view of the customer that is all accounts for connection, convention and prepaid consumption information for an individual customer can now reside in database. It is now possible to have up-to-date financial information that ties with information coming from individual customer accounts.

Clearing the cloud of errors surrounding the new system, Raleru said implementation of the two projects has put strain on the meter reading and billing staff. As a result not all meters could be read regularly and the staff has been coming to terms with processes of the new billing systems.

Combined with a lag in inputting smart meter data in the new billing system, meter reading information for some customers could not be accessed for multiple billing cycles.

“In the absence of meter reading information, the only way to bill the affected customers was for the system to estimate their consumption,” he said.

Raleru announced that government has introduced a fund which subsidises the cost connection for those within 500m of the low voltage distribution transformer so that they can only pay P5000.

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