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Unpaid bills lead to poor access to electricity & outages: Study

The study draws upon microdata from poor, rural or small-town communities in Bihar where the link between payment and supply had been severed. In 2017, customers received on average about 17 hours of electricity a day.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | December 15, 2020 3:00:33 am
NERPSIP is being implemented through the Public Sector Unit Powergrid, in association with beneficiary states Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura. Once commissioned — with December 2021 as target — it will be owned and maintained by the respective state utilities.

Unpaid electricity bills have led to poor access to electricity, including issues like widespread outages and rationing of power, suggests a new study.

The study draws upon microdata from poor, rural or small-town communities in Bihar where the link between payment and supply had been severed. In 2017, customers received on average about 17 hours of electricity a day.

“Most strikingly, areas that paid more didn’t necessarily get more power electricity,” stated the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), which conducted the study in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science and Yale University.

“In combining this data with observations from several field experiments in countries like Brazil, Pakistan and South Korea, the researchers found this was indicative of a broader trend,” it added.

The root of the problem may lie in the fact that society “too often” views electricity as a right that does not need to be paid for, it said.

The researchers involved in the study have suggested solutions spanning removal of subsidies, introducing consumer incentives and changes to the bill collection process as well as technology-based reforms like smart meters.

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