Without a chairperson, it issued two general tariff revision orders in March 2012 and in June 2013
The headless Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has been reduced to a one-member body with the retirement of one member of the panel on Monday.
The Commission, whose primary function is to determine the tariff for generation, supply, transmission and wheeling of electricity within the State, has been functioning without Chairperson after S. Kabilan laid down office in January 2012. [About a year ago, a public interest litigation petition on expeditious completion of the process of selection of candidate for the post of TNERC chairperson was filed in the Madras High Court, which has reserved judgement.]
K. Venugopal, who became member in September 2009 after serving the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission for four years, completed his term on Monday on attaining 65 years of age. At present, there is only one member – S. Nagalsamy – who is part of the Commission in September 2010.
Despite the two posts remaining vacant, there is no legal bar on the Commission to continue to function, going by the 2003 Electricity Act. Without a chairperson, the TNERC issued two general tariff revision orders, the first time in March 2012 and another in June 2013.
For filling the post of Chairperson, the State government, in November 2011, constituted a three-member Selection Committee, headed by Justice (retired) K. Sampath. Chairperson of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and Chief Secretary are ex-officio members of the committee. When Pramod Deo and Debendranath Sarangi held the posts of CERC chairperson and Chief Secretary respectively, the panel met twice including one meeting in July 2012 to consider applications received for the post of TNERC chief. About three dozen applications were received by the authorities, a source says.
However, this is not the first time that the TNERC is functioning as a single-member body. After the constitution of the Commission in March 1999, the Commission had only one member for a brief period of two and a half months that year (July to September) after the designated Chairperson, K. Venkatesan and a member, M.G.Devasahayam, both former civil servants, did not take up their assignments. E.C. Arunachalam, who was a chief engineer in the erstwhile Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, was the other member.
D.S. Hanumantha Rao, who became a member in September 1999, retired in June 2001.
Again, the Commission had only one member. The situation continued till the appointment of A. Balraj, former civil servant, and S. Thangarathnam, former Chief Financial Controller in the TNEB, in June 2002. After Mr. Balraj retired in July 2006, the post of Chairperson again fell vacant nearly for six months. Only in January 2007, Mr. Kabilan took charge.