NEA Begins Power Disruptions to Street Lights Over Unpaid Dues

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Nepal Electricity Authority said on Sunday that it has started cutting off power supply to street lights in several local units that haven’t paid dues related to street lights.

In a statement, the state-owned power utility said that it has dues of Rs6.08 billion to be recovered from 331 municipalities and rural municipalities for the street light facility. Nepal has 753 local units.

The dues were accumulated since 2017, as local units failed to pay the charges on a timely basis, the NEA said.

“We have cut off electricity supply partially for the street lights of several municipalities and rural municipalities over the past three days,” said Manoj Silwal, chief of the distribution and consumer service directorate at the NEA. “For example, we cut off power for street lights at Biratnagar Metropolitan City, Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City and Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City partially.”

Silwal said that the NEA was in consultation with the concerned municipalities to recover the dues. “Majority of them have promised to pay the dues,” he said. “Bharatpur Metropolitan City Mayor [Renu Dahal] on Sunday committed to pay Rs130 million.”

As per the Electricity Tariff Collection Bylaws of the NEA, it can cut off power if tariff is not paid within 60 days after the electricity metre is checked.

As per the bylaws, there are also provisions of financing the consumers in incremental manner if they are cut off from power supply fully.

The NEA had first issued a public notice on October 8 addressing local governments asking them to pay the dues within 45 days. It issued the second notice on November 22.

“Partial cut off of power is just a warning, a pressure tactic, to nudge local governments to pay their dues,” said Silwal.

As the local governments have huge debts to pay to the NEA, the state-owned power utility had proposed to the Finance Ministry whether it would be ready to settle street light dues with NEA’s liability to the federal government.

But the Finance Ministry objected to the proposal. According to the NEA, the ministry had ordered it to recover the dues from the concerned local units. “Following the response from the Finance Ministry, we took the initiative to recover dues from the concerned local units,” said NEA Managing Director Kul Man Ghising, according to the statement.

The power utility said that dues related to the street lights are the highest among the dues owned by the government offices.

However, dues related to street lights are not the biggest dues to be recovered by the NEA from both the government and the private sector. According to Silwal, the NEA is yet to recover as much as Rs22 billion from industrial consumers connected with dedicated power supply. “The board of the NEA has given a relaxation to them by allowing them to pay the dues in instalments. But such consumers are still refusing to pay,” the NEA stated in its Annual Report 2022-23.

According to Silwal, there is an accumulated dues of around Rs30 billion to be recovered from various sectors. “If all the dues were recovered, our financial performance would be much better,” he said.

Source: The Kathmandu Post