APERC to seek EC’s nod to announce new tariffs from April 1
Electricity consumers could be in for another shock what with the power utilities proposing to impose a massive burden of Rs. 9,339 crore on them. The Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) has decided to write a detailed letter to the Election Commission of India seeking relaxation from the model code of conduct for announcing the new tariffs effective from April 1.
The ERC move comes amid doubts that the code of conduct that came into force would be an impediment in announcing the new tariffs for the next financial year. The power distribution companies proposed Rs. 4,312 crore, a huge 28 per cent increase, in tariffs for domestic and LT commercial/industrial consumers. Tariff increase for industrial consumers under HT category is proposed to be 23.9 per cent, accruing additional revenue of Rs. 5,027 crore to the power utilities.
Agricultural consumers will be spared from the huge tariff hike with an assurance that seven-hour free power supply would continue. Charges for domestic consumers are proposed to be increased by Re. 0.50 a unit for those consuming less than 150 units a month and Rs. 1 a unit for the remaining categories. Coupled with this, is the increase in customer charges ranging from Rs. 5 to Rs. 25 a month for domestic and commercial consumers.
“We are seeking relaxation from the model code to implement the new tariffs as otherwise the system will be thrown into jeopardy,” a senior APERC official said. The ERC is planning to cite similar instances where relaxation had been given in States like Nagaland and seek extension of the same provision to its proposal with the EC. The election code came into effect at a time when the ERC, which has already completed the public hearings, is in the process of finalising the new tariffs.
According to the official, the commission’s order for the year 2013-14 specifically mentions that the tariffs will be effective till March 31 this year and “not until further orders.” “Pending a tariff order, the utilities will not be in a position to revise the tariff and raise resources for the year,” he said.
It may be recalled consumers had already been burdened with fuel surcharge adjustment (FSA) in the past but the power utilities this time did not make any mention of the FSA in their proposals submitted to the ERC.Subsidy issue
Asked as to how the commission proposed to deal with the subsidy of Rs. 7,089 crore proposed by the government of united State, ERC sources said the new order would specifically cover the issue. The order will make a mention of the bifurcation of the State along with relevant provisions empowering the ERCs of the two States to opt for review of the order to suit their requirements.
“The bifurcation Bill makes it clear that there will be a common ERC for the two States for a period of six months. The commission will look into various aspects, including the change in jurisdiction of the Central power discom, presently covering Anantapur and Kurnool districts, and issue necessary guidelines for effecting changes subsequently,” a senior official pointed out.