Smart Power India, CESU rolls out measures for customers under joint initiative program amid Coronavirus lockdown

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Bhubaneswar: Smart Power India (SPI), a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Foundation, working in the area of rural electrification, and Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha (CESU) have deployed several measures to ease the impact of difficulties arising for customers under their joint initiative ‘Model Distribution Zone’ (MDZ) program. The key measures include assured continuous electricity supply and no disconnection of supply on humanitarian grounds during the lockdown, even in the case of pending dues from the customers. To ensure the speedy resolution of customer complaints, customer care capacity has also been enhanced. These measures will give relief to 550,000+ rural lives in 630 villages that come under MDZ program.
MDZ program was rolled out in August 2019 as partnership between SPI and CESU with an aim to work on a model to improve electricity access and reliability in rural areas in Odisha. Both entities are working together to develop and implement Model Distribution Zone in select area to demonstrate improvements in electricity service by enhancing reliability and customer services. Under the program, Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) are engaged as micro-franchisees by CESU to perform metering, billing and collection activities.
According to Jaideep Mukherji, CEO, SPI, “We had partnered with CESU to roll out this program last year with an aim to focus on customer experience to improve viability of electricity in rural areas. Good customer service is key to ensure continuity and increase in demand, especially in rural areas. The rolled out measures are in line with our belief that continued effective customer service, especially during such times of crisis, will make electricity supply more valued by rural customers. It becomes all the more critical to ensure quality power supply in a pandemic as electricity is a key component for effective functioning of healthcare facilities. In fact, special field teams have been formed to ensure uninterrupted power for healthcare and other critical facilities in areas under MDZ program.”
Smruti Ranjan Swain, Executive Engineer, CESU said, “Electricity plays an even critical role during such healthcare crisis. Pre-empting the needs of our customers, we have further improved the supply hours and undertaken proactive network maintenance to improve electricity supply. We have introduced several customer specific measures right from ensuring continuous supply to no disconnection during lockdown period. We are also ensuring uninterrupted supply to institutions supplying essential services and have even deployed special network restoration mobile vans to resolve complaints pertaining to electricity supply in a speedy manner.”
Members of the WSHGs engaged in the MDZ program, called ‘Bijuli Didis’ to local people, are also playing their part in this fight against COVID-19 epidemic. They are actively involved in awareness programs done to make villagers aware about the precautions to be taken against COVID-19. Some are also involved in meal distribution schemes in the respective local areas.
Ensuring timely generation and payment of bills, CESU is providing billing information through SMSs / e-mail and on demand of the consumers through the toll free number of call centre. Consumers can pay their electricity dues online through various digital mode / mobile App like Paytm and Airtel / Debit Card / Credit Card etc. Consumers can make payment through cheques maintaining the social distance measure by availing Cheque drop facilities at different offices of CESU. CESU has also announced a special rebate of 4% on and above the existing rebates and incentives for making payment of March and April bills to reduce burden on rural households, enterprises and small industries.
SPI has been actively working towards developing scalable sustainable models that can improve rural electrification in India. It closely works with various state governments and other stakeholders to explore and design innovative strategies to address their inherent challenges.

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