The recent hike in power tariffs announced by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission has hit the average consumer the hardest.
To understand the impact that the tariff hike will have on the aam aadmi, here is an illustration.
A consumer who uses a modest 250 units of power, which means a cooler for six hours, apart from a few light bulbs, fans, electric iron, television, motor pump and a refrigerator every day will see a whopping 53 per cent jump in the monthly power bill from July 1.
On the other hand a consumer who uses an air-conditioner, computer, washing machine, microwave in addition to the appliances mentioned above and takes their consumption to more than 600 units a month will see the monthly bill increase by a mere 28 per cent.
“A consumer who used 600 units a month before the tariff hike would pay Rs.2,275 as monthly energy charges and after July 1 will pay Rs.3,564, which is a hike of just 28 per cent. It is farcical that consumers who use more power and can pay have not been taxed as hard as the middle class who are already reeling under the impact of price rise,” said an expert in the power sector.
After the DERC decided to restructure the existing slabs and did away with the slab of 200-400 units, the increase in power tariff in what is now the second slab 0-400 units has been about 33 per cent.
“The bulk of the domestic consumers use between 250 to 450 units of power. And these are not the ones using multiple air conditioners and other energy guzzling appliances, these are the people who have one AC or a couple of coolers to beat the heat. By increasing their tariff the DERC has ended up increasing their financial liabilities,” the expert said.
“The Government talks of rationalising energy usage, they want consumers to conserve energy and how do they propose to do that, by forcing the poor to switch off. Just how many people can keep their consumption under 200 units?” questioned the expert.
“The DERC should have narrowed down the difference in energy prices between the 0-200 and 0-400 slabs. The difference of Rs.1.10 per unit widens the gap considerably. Ideally, the percentage hike should not be high in the lower slabs, because it doesn’t help the consumers, nor does it help with energy conservation,” the expert said.
Criticising the Commission, BJP’s Sanjay Kaul said: “Using a fridge or a cooler is not fashionable; it is a necessity, given the changes in climate. The way temperatures are going up in summers, even those in the economically-lower brackets need coolers. The hike has had an exponential impact on the poor and the middle class.”