‘Additional charge will help rationalise tariffs in Delhi,’ argues Tata Power

For the past two years, power distribution company Tata Power has been petitioning for a “reliability surcharge” that can be levied on a section of consumers in lieu of an assured supply of power. Their request so far has not been met, but that has not stopped the discom from reiterating the demand.

In the annual revenue requirement petition submitted to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission this past December, the discom has pointed out that the reliability surcharge of 50 paise can be levied on consumers who use more than 600 units a month and for commercial and industrial category users.

The company has made a case that the additional charge will help rationalise tariffs in the city. The recent approval to reliability charge by the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) has also given the company a reason to push for the charge.

On March 14, the HERC approved the levy of additional reliability surcharge of Rs.1.50 per unit over and above the existing tariffs for consumers seeking 24X7 power. “In Delhi, where there already is 24x7 power supply there has been no move to allow the surcharge, even though the discoms ensure a 100 per cent power supply at all times,” said Praveer Sinha, the chief executive officer of the company.

He said unlike in Haryana where the surcharge has led to an increase of about 30 per cent in the monthly power bills, Tata Power has restricted the quantum of surcharge to 50 paise and even limited its application to big consumers.

The DERC does not agree with Tata Power’s proposal on the ground that there is already a condition against load-shedding in the city. “The discoms cannot carry out load-shedding exceeding one per cent. The city has surplus power and in such a scenario it makes no sense to impose a reliability surcharge. This surcharge can be appropriately charged in places where there is load shedding for several hours on a stretch,” said a DERC official.

The DERC’s explanation notwithstanding, a former official of the State Power Department said Delhi should allow a reliability surcharge, “precisely on account of being able to provide 24x7 power”.

“Power supply in Haryana is erratic. On an average, load-shedding lasts about four hours everyday. Delhi, on the other hand, is ensuring round-the-clock power availability to its consumers with an availability factor of over 99.9 per cent, so it can easily levy the charge from consumers in the commercial and industrial categories,” he said.

The HERC decision to levy the surcharge, the discom claims, is also an indicator that “Delhi is among the cities with cheapest power”.

“While there is a widespread belief that the tariffs of Delhi are higher than other States, which is not the case, it is also worthwhile to point out that any comparison of tariffs needs to also take into account the average availability of supply as ensuring 24x7 supply entails additional costs of procuring additional power at relatively more expensive rates,” said a Tata Power official.

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