The Capital's wait for the revised electricity tariff order which should have been implemented by now is getting longer. On Tuesday the Delhi Government shot off a letter to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission asking it not to issue the revised tariff order and consider the petitions of the power discoms seeking a hike in tariffs.
This latest government move comes in the wake of fervent petitioning by the discoms, whose audited accounts show healthy profits for 2009-10. Sources told The Hindu: “The Delhi Government has asked the DERC not to issue the tariff order just a day before the orders were to be announced. The DERC has been asked instead to consider the discoms' petition for a review of the tariff order for this year as well as the previous years.”
While DERC officials declined to comment, sources pointed out that the “stalling” of the revised tariff is expected to adversely impact the consumers, since there were “ample indications that there would be a tariff rollback”.
“Based on the numbers from the audit accounts that the DERC had, it was evident that the discoms had made huge profits. Contrary to what the discoms have claimed, the audited accounts for the years 2009-10 show that NDPL made a profit of Rs. 833.99 crore, BYPL and BRPL have made a profit of Rs. 621.23 crore and Rs. 341.02 crore respectively,” said sources.
The earning per share, which is an indicator of the profit that the companies have made is 4.06 for BRPL in 2009-10 as against (-2.36) in 2008-09, for BYPL it is 6.63 as against 4.97 of the previous year and for NDPL it has doubled from 3.11 in 2008-09 to 6.48 in 2009-10.
“These figures were reason enough for the DERC to propose a reduction of more than 15-20 per cent in the tariff for domestic consumers. The discoms have been clamouring for a hike but the Commission has reason to differ. Also, the discoms have been insisting that the Commission true-up the charges for the previous years in the current tariff order, so that they can be compensated for the expenses they incurred,” sources told The Hindu.
The last day
Wednesday marks the last day of the 120-day period from the date of admission of petitions during which the tariff should have been announced. As per the Electricity Act, tariff orders should be announced within 120 days of the regulator accepting the petition filed by the discoms. If the tariff order is announced after this period, it can be challenged in the Appellate Tribunal by the discoms as well as the consumers.
The Government has now asked the DERC to submit its views on the tariff orders and the discoms' plea, following which it will examine the submission and then give the go-ahead for the announcement of new tariffs.
According to sources, “It (revised order) could take anywhere between a month and six months. For now the consumers will continue paying electricity charges as per the last tariff order.”
Meanwhile, the Delhi Government on Tuesday said it had received some representations from the three discoms, BRPL, NDPL and BYPL, on the issue of severe cash flow constraints affecting their ability to purchase power in 2010-11.
“They had also submitted in their representation that their revenue gaps have accumulated beyond sustainable levels and the assumed higher projections for tariff fixation has eroded their capability to buy more power and also that due to high debt to equity ratio they are finding it difficult get further loan from the bank to continue their operations,” it said.
In view of the representations, the Government said, it felt that the issues raised by distribution companies were serious and accordingly directed the DERC to examine these issues and to submit its statutory advice on these issues to the Government
Wait and watch
The Government further felt that to protect the interests of the consumers it would be prudent to further direct the DERC not to announce their new tariff structure till the time the Government is able to examine the issues raised by the discoms in the light of the statutory advice to be given by DERC, the statement said, adding that therefore for the time being the tariff of various categories would stay at the same level as that of last year.