The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has adopted the differential tariff system for Information Technology Services (ITS) and IT-Enabled Services (ITES) companies besides private communication providers (PCPs).
Firms providing ITS are covered under industrial consumers' tariff while ITES firms and PCPs come under commercial consumers' tariff.
This means that ITES and PCP consumers have to pay energy charges of Rs.1.80 per unit per month more than what ITS firms are charged, if they come under high tension (HT) category.
In the case of LT category, the per unit difference varies from 30 paise to Rs.1.30 to Rs.2.50 per unit. The billing cycle here is once in two months.
[For LT industries, the energy charges are Rs.4 per unit for consumption up to 1,500 units in two months and Rs.5 for over 1,501 units in two months. In respect of LT commercial consumers, the charges are Rs.4.30 for consumption up to 100 units in two months; Rs.5.3 for 101-200 units in two months and Rs.6.5 for over 201 units.]
In its order of July 31, the Commission quoted letters of the State government and the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) in support of its conclusion.
The exchange of communication and discussions among the government, TNEB and TNERC took place in the backdrop of the position explained by the government in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy 2008.
The ICT Policy had stated that for the purpose of power tariff, IT, as defined in the document, maintenance and servicing units and hardware units would be treated as industrial consumers, not commercial consumers. The tariff, as applicable to industrial consumers, would be charged.
The document also defined ITS as systems integration, processing services, information services outsourcing, packaged software support and installation, hardware support and installation.
In its letter of April 12, the TNEB informed the Commission, reiterating the government's position that IT-ITES companies, maintenance and servicing units and hardware units may be treated industrial consumers, not commercial. [The Board filed its tariff petition in January and public hearings on the tariff revision proposal were held in March-April].
On June 29, the Commission held a meeting with Principal Secretaries in-charge of Finance, Energy and IT departments and TNEB Chairman on this issue. In response to the Commission's query, the officials had said that the government would take a view on this and communicate it to the Commission.
Three weeks later, on receipt of the Energy Department's advice, the TNEB intimated to the Commission that the government, at this juncture, proposed to maintain the status quo ante and continue with the existing tariff classifications for ITS, ITES and PCPs.
“… it is submitted that tariff for HT and LT of Information Technology Services alone may kindly be continued in HT Tariff IA [industrial]/LT Tariff III B [industrial] and HT and LT services of IT Enabled Services/Private Communication Providers may kindly be continued in HT Tariff III [commercial]/LT Tariff V [commercial] respectively as at present,” said the tariff order, quoting the TNEB chairman's letter of July 22 to the TNERC.