Kenya Power has opened a window for staggered payment of accumulated bills in an apparent move to appease consumers angered by its recent update of consumption records.
Hundreds of customers have either been disconnected or served with disproportionately high bills since the utility firm launched a countrywide meter audit campaign late last year in a bid to recover billions of shillings in unpaid bills.
“Affected customers are advised to visit the nearest Kenya Power offices to negotiate the option of staggering their payment of accumulated bills,” the company told the Business Daily.
The offer came after the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) accused Kenya Power of slapping several customers with huge bills yet it is the one that had delayed in reading their meters.
The Nairobi-bourse listed utility firm has attributed the delays in meter reading to inaccessibility of some premises, something that it says has prompted it to rely on estimates as basis for billing.
The firm’s officers are supposed to read meters every month, but that has not been happening. The Cofek went public over the surprise billing on Tuesday.
“We have received numerous complaints on Kenya Power excessive billing for December 2016 consumption resulting from many months of estimated bills. Whenever accurate readings are taken, consumers are over-charged with bills ranging between five to 10 times on average bills,” Cofek secretary-general Stephen Mutoro said in a statement.
“It is unacceptable that KPLC would then expect such inflated bills to be settled within one month,” he added.
The utility firm was owed Sh12.4 billion in unpaid bills as of June 2016, which outstrips its net profit of Sh7.5 billion for the year ended last June.
The mounting pile of debt has forced the electricity retailer to switch defaulting customers to pre-paid meters from post-paid as a strategy to arrest defaults.
All new customers connected to the grid beginning June 2013 were put on pre-paid metering, which uses a pay-as-you-go model hence there is no risk of non-payment.
Consumers on pre-paid meters use power they have paid for in advance, similar to mobile air time top-ups, helping Kenya Power to receive its revenues in full.