Parliament’s Mines and Energy Committee has exonerated the Electricity Company Ghana (ECG) from any wrongdoing in connection with recent errors associated with its billing system.
The committee was tasked by the Speaker to investigate the anomalies in bills following complaints from the general public.
The Committee was left confused after last Friday’s meeting with officials of the state power supplier but said issues had been clarified after their meeting on Tuesday May 31.
According to the members of the Energy Committee, high taxes by government, rather than faults by the service provider, are the reasons for the upward adjustment of bills.
Speaking to Class News, a member of the committee, Joseph Cudjoe, said the high bills being recorded were isolated cases and not as widespread as reports had it.
He told Class News’ parliamentary correspondent, Ekow Annan, that consumers who suffered the errors would be offered refunds.
“The [meeting] went very well, very well in the sense that questions we asked largely were answered with lots of clarification. We now have a deeper understanding of the problem,” Mr Cudjoe said.
“…The highlights, I must say, we sought to understand the problem. The problem is people are crying out there about electricity bills and explanations have been coming in bits and pieces out there and we wanted to make sense of all the explanations we are hearing from the viewpoint of PURC (Public Utilities Regulatory Commission) and ECG and Energy Commission sitting together, so that we can get a holistic explanation.
“Today’s meeting made me believe absolutely. … When the problem came, everybody was talking about a software ECG has implemented and creating an impression…that ECG is the bad boy. But today’s meeting has diffused that. I can say for a fact that it is not a software issue. …ECG says so far as their performance target in connection with billing as an operational issue, their performance target is to do a minimum of 98 per cent. That means bills generated, if it exceeds a minimum of 98 per cent in accuracy, should not be problematic.
"At the moment ECG says they are doing 99.9 per cent accuracy. Eight million bills sent out only 7,000 [were overbilled] and if you take it as a percentage, you get 99.9 per cent accuracy, so [only] 0.01 per cent [of consumers] have issues. And if you compare with its operations over the weekend, this period is even more accurate than what has been the case in the past. So, the issue has been isolated. Clearly the problem is the tariff and increases in the tariff that are causing the public outcry.
“Your consumption has increased because ‘dumsor’ [erratic power supply] has been resolved. So, your consumption has increased and, then, at that point in time, don’t forget the ‘dumsor’ we were battling will end in December, and, then, in the same month in December, approval [was] given, levy introduced, so that effect [which is] high energy consumption or unit consumed, high tariff increase would make your bill go up abnormally and that is why people have been complaining.
"So, don’t attribute this to billing. That is the point I am making because as for billing accuracy, I am saying ECG has never done 100 per cent over the years. Don’t forget ECG is not a mill organisation. They don’t do 100 per cent billing accuracy, it is not even practical.”
Mr Cudjoe noted that the 0.01 per cent of the population who have been overbilled will be reimbursed.
“Operationally, anytime anybody experienced that [overbilling] when ECG detects it, they don’t write a cheque out to you. Either the bill is adjusted, you pay the new established bill, or they credit you with the excess bill that was given to you,” he added.
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