If you’re amongst two-thirds (68% to be exact) of the population that has access to electricity in Pakistan, then you most certainly receive a monthly electricity bill. This piece of paper, also commonly known as the WAPDA bill, has been full of surprises over the last year for many consumers who couldn’t make head to toe of the exorbitantly high electricity bills and consumption. It is widely believed that electricity supply companies in Pakistan are laced with incompetence, negligence, and other issues. Unfortunately, it’s the consumer who has had to bear the brunt of the laxity and mismanagement of our electricity supply companies in the form of over-billing and disconnections and late payment surcharges.However, if you’re like most consumers who pay their electricity bills without paying too much heed to the various figures related to electricity consumption and tariffs, then this article has been specially prepared by Loadshedding.pk for you. Please read on.
Here’s a sample IESCO (Islamabad Electric Supply Company) electricity bill. For the purposes of privacy, we’ve masked personal details.Although, our electricity companies are to be blamed for not sending out accurate electricity bills from time to time, consumers also need to be more aware and conscious of any discrepancies in their WAPDA bills. Most of us are interested in the payable amount as per the electricity bill and the due date to avoid any penalty without paying attention to how the bill has been calculated and whether the consumption represents a realistic picture of our electricity usage. Let’s delve deeper into the typical electricity bill that most Pakistanis receive and demystify some of the important items and figures that are contained in this piece of paper.
Let’s break down different sections of the WAPDA bill according to:
- Electricity Consumption
- Cost of electricity
- Other costs
- FPA (Fuel Price Adjustment)
- PTV (Pakistan Television) fees
- Arrears if any
- ED (Electricity Duty Levied by Provincial Government)
Electricity consumption is measured in terms of the number of units of electricity that your household has expended in a billing period which is usually one month. For more information on unit calculation please refer to our article Kilowatt-hour (kWh) and Electric Bills. Your electricity meter outside your house provides a reading for the number of units consumed at any given point in time. Usually the reading states the total consumption from the date of installation of the meter. In Pakistan meter reading is a manual process carried out by various meter readers that are designated for different areas of cities. The meter reading date is usually listed at the top of the electricity bill as highlighted in the image below. Along with the meter reading date are the current billing month, issue date and due date. Please note that the electronic version of the bill or WAPDA online bill is usually available a few days before the printed version is delivered to houses. Useful Tip: Since meter reading is a manual activity in Pakistan, it is prone to discrepancies and human errors. It is recommended that the electricity consumption listed on the bill is verified by checking the meter yourself around the usual meter reading date for your house to ensure that there are no inconsistencies. If you notice that there is a significant difference between the actual and reported readings, notify your sub division officer (SDO) at the local electric supply office immediately. The contact information for your SDO is also listed on your electricity bill. Additionally, if you notice a spike in your unit consumption or cost of electricity, compare it with your consumption in the previous year in the same months. This information is available in the billing history columns your electricity bill. To calculate the monthly unit consumption of a household, a meter reader subtracts the current month’s reading with the previous month’s reading. The current month and previous month’s units are present in all the WAPDA bills supplied in Pakistan. These are highlighted in the image below. In the sample LESCO bill below, the total units consumed for the month of November 2014 are 84 (18,312 – 18,228).
Cost of Electricity
Cost of electricity is what you pay to your electricity supply company such as IESCO, SEPCO, HESCO, LESCO, K-Electric etc. Calculating the cost of electricity is a little tricky because a variable tariff structure is in place instead of a flat per unit cost. So the tariffs will be different if consumption is under 50 units compared with if your consumption is between 50 and 100 units and so forth. Essentially, NEPRA (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) has created different tariff slabs, which are determined by the unit consumption for a particular household. Simply put, the more units you consume, the cost of electricity per unit will go up. The breakdown of this calculation is listed on your electricity bill. Please refer to our sample IESCO bill.
In essence, the higher the unit consumption for a particular household, a higher tariff slab will be applied for calculating the bill. Another factor that impacts the cost per unit of electricity is the time of the day. The newer digital electric meters that have been installed in most parts of the country are capable of recording electricity usage during peak and off peak timings. Usage during peak hours is charged at a higher rate compared with usage during off-peak hours. The table below lists peak and off-peak hours during various months.
|Season/Months||Peak Timings(4 hours/day)||Off-Peak Time|
|December to February||5 PM to 9 PM||Remaining 20 hours|
|March to May||6 PM to 10 PM||Remaining 20 hours|
|June to August||7 PM to 11 PM||Remaining 20 hours|
|September to November||6 PM to 10 PM||Remaining 20 hours|
As evident, there is a 4-hour peak time window everyday during which electricity charges are much higher compared to off-peak hours, which constitute the remaining 20 hours of the day. However, an interesting point to note here is that peak usage tariffs only apply to households where the sanctioned load is more than 5kW. This essentially means that where the meter has registered a maximum load of 5kW or more resulting from high electricity consumption from appliances such as multiple air conditioners, there are no slabs based on the number of units consumed. Rather calculation is only based on peak usage and off peak usage. In most cases off peak usage is billed at PKR 12.5 per unit whereas peak usage is billed at PKR 18 per unit. The key takeaway here is that if your average electricity load is high, your price per unit will be high across the board irrespective of the number of units you consume. For instance if you run more then two 1.5 ton air conditioners along with other appliances simultaneously, your peak load will be registered higher than 5kW by the meter prompting your electricity supply company to change your tariff slab. However, if your average electricity load is less than 5kW, then your price per unit will be proportional to the number of units you consume. Peak and off-peak tariffs will not be applicable in such instances. Here’s a table that describes this. This table has been picked up from IESCO’s website.
|#||Tariff category and Details||Variable charges Rs. / kWh|
|a)||For Sanctioned load up to 5 kW|
|i||Up to 50 Units||2.00|
|For Consumption exceeding 50 Units|
|ii||1- 100 Units||5.79|
|iii||101- 200 Units||8.11|
|iv||201- 300 Units||12.09|
|v||301- 700 Units||13.00|
|vi||Above 700 Units||15.00|
|b)||For Sanctioned load exceeding 5 kW|
|Time Of Use||15.00||13.00|
The following two bills explain these scenarios where the LESCO sample bill has a connected/sanctioned load of 1 kW and the IESCO sample bill has a connected/sanctioned load of 8kW. Note how the tariffs are different for both the bills based on their connected load.
Government charges are the additional costs that the government sources from consumers in the form of taxes and surcharges. Details of these are listed below.
General Sales Tax (GST)
General Sales Tax (GST) is levied on the total cost of electricity. GST is usually 17% to 18% depending on the province or federal territory. In the sample LESCO bill below, the GST amounts to PKR 88, which is 18% of the total cost of electricity that is PKR 486.36.
There are various other minor costs and charges that are added to your monthly electricity bill.
- PTV charges of PKR 35 are standard across all electricity bills in Pakistan
- TR-SUR is called Tariff Rationalization Surcharge and has recently started appearing on LESCO electricity bills. It is applied @ Rs. 2.67/unit when total consumption is 300 units or above. This is a way to minimize circular debt and harmonize variances in tariffs across Pakistan. This notice was issued by the Ministry of Water and Power on the direction of the Federal Government on 10th June 2015. Please note that our readers have pointed out that this is currently only being charged to LESCO customers.
- FC-SUR (Financing Cost Surcharge) is applied on all units consumed @ Rs. 0.43/unit. This surcharge has also been observed in LESCO bills as of now.
- ED or Electricity Duty is usually levied by provincial governments and is not applied on IESCO bills. An ED of 1.5% has been applied to the cost of electricity (PKR 486.36), which comes to around PKR 7.30 in the sample LESCO bill below.
- Arrears are usually unpaid bills from previous months, which are accrued overtime and show up in the current month’s electricity bills. On the rare occasion, negative arrears can also show up in your electricity bills owing to adjustments or compensations due to overbilling by your electricity supply company. This has particularly been observed in the months of October and November 2014 when many consumers reported adjustments/compensations of thousands of rupees in their bills.
- NJS Eq Sur or N.J. Sur refers to Neelum Jhelum Surcharge, which is almost 1% of the cost of electricity for the current month. This is the government’s strategy to raise finances for constructing the Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project.
- A small Meter Rent fee is also added to the bill.
- FPA (Fuel Price Adjustment) account for the fluctuations in the prices of crude oil, furnace oil and other fuels that are used in power plants to generate electricity. No one knows how this figure is calculated and the government has faced severe criticism from the public at large as well as the Supreme Court on these FPAs. For instance, IESCO customers received a net (Rs. 1.8613/kWh) fuel price adjustment in the billing month of August in lieu of April. Most consumers may have noticed this amount subtracted from their bill.