What happens when GPL is in breach of contract with consumers?

Dear Editor,
Before sentencing a person found guilty of an offence a magistrate or judge  takes into consideration mitigating circumstances, pleas made on behalf of the accused by defence attorneys, probation or welfare officers, and sometimes the accused themselves, and as such the maximum penalty for that offence may not be unopposed.

When an electricity meter registered to a consumer is found to be tampered with, GPL has procedures to deal with that consumer.

First an inventory is conducted to determine the number of electrical appliances the consumer has. A calculation is then made as to how much electricity those appliances would consume for no less than one calendar year. If that is the procedure used by GPL I definitely have no problem. However, there are some vital points which need to be discussed and which have to be factored into the investigation and subsequently the calculation relating to the amount of electricity consumed. One of these concerns whether all the appliances found on the premises were there for the entire year. If the consumer can produce substantial evidence in the form of authentic receipts showing the dates on which such appliances were acquired, then GPL should be required by law to make the necessary adjustments to their calculations.

Secondly,  not all electrical appliances are operated on a 24 hour basis, and therefore provision should be made for how to calculate the amount of electricity consumed, taking into consideration those appliances are not operated continuously for 24 hours. Refrigerators and freezers are two appliances which can be said to be in continuous operation for a 24 hour period. Fans, television sets, microwaves, irons and music systems, to name a few, do not operate continuously, only periodically. Thirdly, during the year power outages whether scheduled or unscheduled occur. When this happens no electricity will be consumed as there will be no power, so this also will have to be a consideration when the evaluation is being made.

Another issue with GPL concerns the disconnection notice that has been appearing in newspapers recently. Whenever a legal written contract is made between two or more persons there are provisions stipulating the penalties that could be imposed should there be a breach of the contract by any of the signatories. When a consumer enters into a contract with GPL it is for GPL to provide electricity for which the consumer has to pay on an agreed date. Failing to pay for electricity consumed is a breach of the contract. The penalty is disconnection of the power supply. To receive electricity again (reconnection) the consumer has to satisfy certain conditions imposed by GPL. What I am contending is that when there is an unscheduled black-out and the consumer was not notified, this also is a breach of contract on the part of GPL, and as such a penalty should be imposed  on the power company.

Lastly, I would like to know whether the release put out by GPL concerning disconnection and the requirements that have to be met before reconnection takes place, have been sanctioned by the PUC.

Yours faithfully,
Colin Gill



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