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February 17, 2011

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High bills may be down to meters

NEW electric meters that were placed in households might be the cause of people receiving higher electricity bills, as the meters are more sensitive, said the meters' producer.

Shanghai Lianneng Meter Co Ltd, one of the suppliers of electric meters, said residents' electricity bills could increase after the old mechanical electric meters were replaced with new electronic ones, according to the Shanghai Morning Post yesterday.

Zhang Jiaxian, general manager of Lianneng, said the two kinds of electric meters work differently and the electronic one is more sensitive.

Take a lamp which has power below three watts as an example, the mechanical meter might not sense the electricity consumed by it, but the electronic meter would count it. With the electricity used by all the household appliances accumulated, the amount registered could increase significantly compared to a month with the old meter, Zhang told the post.

The electric meters at 14 households, who had complained that their bills were abnormally high and applied for inspections, had been examined and were functioning correctly, according to the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau.

The bureau said there are more than 7 million meters across the city and the up-to-standard rate was 100 percent according to inspections in recent years.

Shanghai Electric Power Co, the local power supplier, had claimed earlier this week that they had not overcharged and blamed higher bills on the cold weather.

However, public skepticism on the power consumption continues as many residents did not believe the company's statement, saying the company had a "monopoly."

"I'm still waiting for a reasonable explanation," said a resident, surnamed Li, from Tianshan area, Changning District. "It's crazy. I'm not going to pay the bill for now."

Li, who was charged more than 500 yuan (US$76) for power, said he only stayed at his apartment, some 40 square meters, for less than half a month.

"The power bill in December was only about 100 yuan before they changed the meter," Li told Shanghai Daily. "I don't really use many electric appliances, just the air-conditioner."

Officials at the standards bureau said many appliances like air-conditioners, stereos, televisions and electric heaters still consume power as long as they are plugged in.

Residents can apply for a third-party check if they doubt the accuracy of their electricity meters, the power company said.

If the meter proves to be faulty and providing incorrect readings, the company will refund all the overcharged fees, officials said.


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