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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
10 Muharram 1446  

Residents take Bahria Town to court against overbilling and solar power deductions

Petition argues that electricity bills from Iesco and Bahria Town show significant disparity
The undated photo shows the entrance of Bahria Town Karachi. Photo via Bahria Town
The undated photo shows the entrance of Bahria Town Karachi. Photo via Bahria Town

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has sought responses from Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco), the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), and Bahria Town regarding a petition filed by residents, claiming that they are being overbilled and unfairly charged for electricity generated through solar power.

The petition argues that the electricity bills from Iesco and Bahria Town show a significant disparity, and the amounts residents pay have become a source of revenue for the housing society. The residents say they have approached Nepra about this issue, but without success, according to Dawn newspaper.

The petition also alleges that Bahria Town has taken retaliatory measures, like disconnecting electricity meters, against residents who have protested this situation.

Before the Eid holidays began, the court directed Nepra, as the regulator, to provide the petitioners an opportunity to be heard and take necessary legal actions to address the residents’ concerns before the next court hearing.

According to the petition, Bahria Town began managing its own electricity distribution system in 2002, without having a lawfully issued license to do so. The housing society was receiving electricity from the national grid and then distributing it to the residents.

In 2005, a resident filed a complaint against Bahria Town regarding the disconnection of electricity supply to their house. Nepra conducted a hearing in 2006 and directed Iesco to provide electricity to the complainant, as per Iesco’s mandate under the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997.

However, the petition claims that Iesco failed to comply with Nepra’s order. Nepra even issued a show cause notice to Iesco, but none of the respondents (Iesco, Nepra, or Bahria Town) have taken any action to address this issue.

In 2007, Bahria Town applied for an electricity distribution license. Initially, Iesco agreed to surrender a portion of its service area to Bahria Town. However, Iesco’s board of directors later refused to do so.

In 2010, Nepra modified Iesco’s distribution license and, after the required approvals, excluded the Bahria Town service area from Iesco’s license purview.

On November 24, 2010, Nepra granted Bahria Town a 20-year distribution license under Section 21 of the relevant Act, disregarding Iesco’s exclusive territorial rights.

This led Iesco to initiate several writ petitions in 2011 and 2012 before the Islamabad High Court, seeking to revoke Bahria Town’s license.

Finally, in 2020, under mounting pressure and legal scrutiny, Bahria Town agreed to surrender its distribution license. Consequently, Nepra revoked Bahria Town’s license on October 16, 2020.

Even after the revocation of Bahria Town’s distribution license in 2020, the petition claims that the housing society has persisted in billing consumers and imposing unauthorized and unapproved additional charges, further exacerbating the financial burden on the residents.

After years of legal proceedings, Nepra finally announced a decision in April 2023 regarding Bahria Town’s distribution network. Nepra held that since the housing society did not possess a distribution license, it had no right to continue billing consumers. Instead, Nepra ordered that all billing should be shifted to Iesco immediately.

However, the petition states that Bahria Town has yet to comply with Nepra’s order and is still charging the residents.

Furthermore, the petition alleges that last month, Bahria Town once again imposed unapproved and excessive electricity tariffs, exceeding Iesco-approved rates by up to Rs15.66 per unit. The housing society also implemented unjust increases, such as a Rs4 per unit “TA Adjustment,” leading to a net increase of Rs 8 per unit, along with illegal miscellaneous service charges amounting to Rs3700.

According to the petition, Bahria Town has also imposed unauthorized adjustments on solar users, deducting 30% of exported units without authorization.

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