Consumers to know by June-end if there would be a further hike in rates

Delhiites will have to wait longer to know whether or not they will have to pay more for power every month as the tariff announcement by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission is now likely to be made at the end of June.

Like the previous years, this year too, the tariff fixation exercise has taken longer than the stipulated time. As per the Electricity Act, 2003, tariff order should be announced within 120 days of the Regulator accepting the aggregate revenue requirement petition filed by the discoms. If it is announced after this period, it can be challenged in the Appellate Tribunal by the discoms as well as the consumers.

The discoms had filed the ARR petitions by December 2012, but owing to various reasons the exercise of tariff fixations has only now begun. The DERC has recently appointed consultants, the Administrative Staff, College of India, for assisting it with the scrutiny, analysis and assorted work related to tariff and ARR true-up of all the three discoms – the BRPL, TPDDL and BYPL.

A senior official of the DERC said the consultants have begun work and will need at least a month to revert with the requisite figures that will help in tariff fixation. This will be followed by a public hearing, which is a mandatory part of the tariff exercise. “Some time was lost because one of the companies had to revise and re-send their tariff petition, that apart the whole exercise is cumbersome and time consuming. The Commission has to verify each and every claim presented by the discoms in the petitions to arrive at a fair tariff,” said an official.

The discoms, which have sought a hike in the range of 10-15 per cent, are not too happy with the delay in tariff announcement. According to the discom sources, a delay in recovering the costs from consumers means an increase in the regulatory assets. “The discoms are paying heavy interest on the loans; if the reimbursement through tariff collection is delayed it adds to the carrying cost. So, a delay in tariff announcement is actually bad for the discoms as well as the consumers, because they are the ones who are eventually paying,” said a discom official.

The discoms have been petitioning the DERC for a raise in tariffs citing huge financial losses and mounting debts as reasons. The Centre’s refusal to grant subsidised power from the central unallocated pool to Delhi and also to not bring the discoms under financial schemes like the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP) have also not gone down with the discoms.

“There is no aid coming in for the discoms; the consumers don’t want to pay more, even if the power purchase cost itself has gone up substantially, the government is not ready to bail them out and now there is word that the Centre has turned down the proposal to extend the benefits of schemes like the R-APDRP, which goes on to make the financial condition of the discoms untenable,” the official said.

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