Announcing a tariff order that calls for a hike in power costs, a year after the preceding team had suggested a roll back, has not been an easy step for the current team at the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission. On Friday while announcing the new order, the new team battled accusations of acting on the instructions of the Delhi Government and giving in to the demands of the discoms.
The DERC chairman, P. D. Sudhakar, however, asserted that the Commission is pro-consumers and not bound by fear or favour.
“The DERC is not here to defend the government, the discoms or any other organisation. There is a certain wrong impression among consumers, but we are here to put the facts before them,” said the chairman.
Referring to the hike in tariffs, he said it is untenable to keep power tariffs unchanged when the price of fuel has gone up and power purchase cost alone accounts for 80 per cent of the total cost incurred by the discoms. Power tariff, he said, cannot be expected to remain insulated. “Overall in the past seven years the hike so far has been merely seven to eight per cent,” he said.
DERC member J.P. Singh added that the DERC is working on drafting a stringent performance standard to protect consumers. He said following complaints by consumers that the discoms follow arbitrary procedures for sealing and testing meters, he said the process will be streamlined and two more testing labs will be added at the end of six months.
On the issue of New Delhi Municipal Council areas continuing to have lower energy tariff as compared to the rest of the city, he said: “We are working on the issue and by next year we will have one-tariff-one-city. This year too, there has been a change and an increase in the tariff in the NDMC areas.”
In the NDMC areas a consumer will have to pay Rs 2 per unit for the 0-100 units while it will go up to Rs.2.70 for units between 101 and 200, Rs.3.60 for units between 201 and 400 and for above 400 units it will be Rs.4.35 per unit.
The Commission also pointed out that it will appeal against certain orders of the Appellate Tribunal of Electricity over the tariff order 2008-09 as it deems them not in favour of the consumers. “We will go to the Supreme Court against the ATE's orders as we do not agree with certain provisions,” said Mr. Singh.
Meanwhile, consumers expressed anger at the rise in power tariffs, while the discoms felt relieved. “This is the first significant tariff hike to take place in Delhi in the last five years. During this period, the cost of purchasing power has increased by over 100 per cent. Since privatisation total cumulative tariff hike in Delhi city is mere 16 per cent against a power purchase cost hike of 200 per cent leading to huge under recoveries,” said a BSES spokesperson.
RWAs are gearing up for a protest. “What is the point of having a public hearing if the DERC has to repeat Chief Minister's three-month-old statement...that tariffs must go up on account of inflation,” said GK-I RWA member Rajiv Kakria.