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April 18, 2011

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Official apologizes for large power bills

A SENIOR official with the city's power company apologized over the weekend for the big electricity bills people received for the month of January, but reiterated there was "no overcharging."

Zhao Yiliang, Party secretary of Shanghai Electric Power Co Ltd, said the utility supplier will make electricity bills more clear by adding the start and end dates of the billing period.

"We should learn from what happened," Zhao said. "Residents shall see the changes on their bills."

Apart from adding the time span, Zhao said Shanghai Electric will also remind households how to use appliances in energy-saving ways when the seasons change.

Shanghai Electric said the higher bills were due to the Spring Festival and an unusually cold winter.

Electricity bills were delayed since the Spring Festival was at the beginning of February and thus, the bills were for 38 days, not a month.

Electricity bills dropped about 40 percent in February compared with the previous month, Zhao said.

Zhao added "the company will not make a penny unjustly" in response to suspicion electricity meters were inaccurate.

The city began replacing old meters last year. Some residents complained the new meters are more sensitive although tests have shown the gauges work properly.

In one extreme case, a household was mistakenly charged 50,000 yuan (US$7,655) on their monthly electricity bill. Zhao said a clerical error was made and the employee responsible for it was fired.

Residents, however, are still concerned.

"We still don't know exactly how much electricity we use each month," said a housewife, surnamed Xu, who lives in Changning District.


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