Save trees, save time: LECO bills by SMS | Sunday Observer

Save trees, save time: LECO bills by SMS

11 June, 2023
Athula De Silva
Athula De Silva

“LECO usually issues electricity bills to consumers every month. They are given various bill payment options and mechanisms at their convenience. The process of printing and sending bills takes Rs.17 for each bill. The paper for each bill costs Rs.5 and the printing cost is Rs.12. Thus it costs Rs.17 for one bill not only to distribute it but also to print it. Yet if we send four SMS messages along with a reminder it will only cost 80 cents at 20 cents for a single text. The difference is unbelievable. If we go with the prior method we spend around Rs.10 million per month only for the printing of bills,” said Attorney-At- Law Athula De Silva, Chairman of Lanka Electricity Company (LECO) in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Excerpts from the interview

Q: Tell us a bit about how LECO was started and where it is headed.

A: LECO was set up in 1983 as a subsidiary of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to light up the lives of people through innovative, eco-friendly approaches. As a State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) registered under the Companies Act, LECO’s mission is to provide the best energy solutions to society through continuous innovation. The company was assigned to take over and operate the dilapidated electricity networks once owned by the Local Government (LG) authorities. A group of engineers led by H.S. Subasinghe took over this enormous task.

The company, which had a humble beginning, attracted Asian Development Bank (ADB) funds and converted the networks handed over to it using modern technology.

The electricity transmission losses of these areas were reduced even below international best values. LECO is now recorded as a model Electricity Distribution Utility (EDU) in Asia. Sri Lanka’s best engineering minds with an unsurpassable commitment have brought this truly local enterprise up to international benchmarks.

Q: Can you share some facts on distribution and supply?

A: LECO serves around 600,000 customers having a network worth Rs.13 bn. We operate under the license issued under the provisions of the Electricity Act and under the regulations of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL). The company operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Power and Energy.

We endeavour to operate our network to international standards and give our customers a high quality service. We blend not only the best of engineering and technology but also the skills and commitment of our workforce.

LECO is one of the five electricity distribution licensees (EL/D/16-004) in Sri Lanka to “Distribute and Supply” electricity to the customers within its franchised area. We own and operate an electricity distribution network feeding Medium and Low-voltage electricity to more than 585,000 customers along the Western Coastal Belt.

Q: How would you define the main functions of LECO?

A: LECO is always dedicated to provide a safe and hassle free electricity supply to our customers around the clock on their demand in capacities of retail single phase to bulk supplies at medium and low voltage levels.

We are continually carrying out system development activities that work efficiently in order to maintain safety, reliability, and customer demand and reduce system losses in our network. We strictly adhere to internationally accepted safety and quality regulations in accordance with the requirements of the PUCSL.

Customer satisfaction being our utmost priority, LECO staff is always dedicated to support for all types of customer issues (technical, legal, administrative) related to the electricity distribution system. Customers can access LECO management or relevant staff anytime through telephone, fax, e-mail, letters or walk through visits.

The MYLECO Mobile Application is also available for any registered customer which is a highly effective way to deal with breakdown complaints, electricity bill related information and payment history.

Q: What is the LECO SMS Electricity Bill?

A: With the technology available today, we do not have to meddle with printing and distribution. This will benefit the company as well as the consumer in the long run. Instead of printing electricity bills, we have launched a versatile method; that is to send your monthly bill via SMS.

This project has been in discussion for a considerable period, it was practically activated in May 2023. Actually in May we have been distributing this bill both ways to raise awareness among the consumers. We will give a printed bill until August whilst sending the SMS bill to keep the consumer on track. After August we will no longer send the printed bill to the consumer.

However, if the consumer has to get a printed bill he or she should follow the link indicated on the SMS and get a printout.

This service will be fully activated from August 1 this year. In case you do not receive the LECO SMS bill you should register with LECO through your mobile as given in the example below:

Type REG<Space>Account Number and send a SMS to 071 4643643 for the registration. In case you need to change the currently registered phone number, send an SMS Chg<Space>Account Number from the new mobile number to 071 464 3643.

This solution makes it hassle-free with no form filling, stapling, writing and running around for hard documents. It saves your valuable time and energy. Yet, if you need a detailed printed bill you could always get it through the link provided.

You can log into the website and get a detailed bill by entering the LECO account number. You could also gain further assistance from a LECO representative who will visit your home. In the alternative, dial 1910 for assistance.

Q: What about the commitment of LECO staff?

A: LECO staff work hard to attend to all service breakdowns within just 30 minutes. We have a committed team in customer service centres to attend to customer service breakdowns and electricity distribution system faults on a 24/7 basis. This process is well monitored to minimise the electricity outage duration. We are using state-of-the-art technologies and initiatives like the Breakdown App and Breakdown Vehicle Tracking Systems to improve customer service standards even further.

In fact, our latest push-to-talk two-way radio system recently won an international award in the Critical Communications sector.

LECO seeks to reduce energy losses in the distribution system to keep it below 4.5 percent. This we have done for the past five years. We are totally aware that reduction of energy losses in the distribution system will help to achieve significant financial savings on power generation. It also helps to minimise emissions due to power generation, which is good for the environment.

LECO believes that the addition of renewable energy sources can make a significant impact on the global battle for Climate Change and for a Carbon Neutral future. Therefore, we always encourage our consumers to install Renewable Energy sources such as Solar.