The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC), through its latest tariff order, has not just delivered a tariff shock to domestic consumers but also paved the way for additional tariff burden on certain sections of domestic consumers.

The additional burden, though not applicable to all, may be severe on those sections of the domestic consumers, who are at the high-end consumption of electricity.

For the first time, in residential complexes, common facilities such as gymnasium, swimming pool, recreation clubs, indoor stadiums and grounds, indoor and community halls, amphitheatres and shops will be charged under the commercial category. This means that for every unit of electricity consumed, charges will be Rs.4.30 which will be levied only in the case of consumption up to 200 units bi-monthly. If the consumption exceeds this limit, the charges will be Rs.7 per unit from the first unit of consumption.

Besides, in the case of complexes having domestic consumers and commercial establishments, if the built-up area of flats/tenements utilised for commercial purposes exceeds 25 per cent of the total built-up area, the LT services relating to common utilities will be charged under the tariff of commercial establishments. Otherwise, the domestic consumer tariff is charged.

In respect of multi-storeyed tenements/residential complexes, power supply used for common lighting, water supply and lift alone may be given separate connection and charged under the tariff of domestic consumers.

A perusal of the order also reveals that in respect of domestic consumers, the Commission almost endorsed what was proposed by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO). Only in the case of low-end domestic consumers, the Commission reduced energy charges from the proposed Rs. 3 per unit to Rs. 2.6 per unit for those consuming up to 100 units bimonthly and to Rs. 2.8 per unit for those falling under the division of consumption up to 200 units. The government's subsidy will be Rs. 1.5 per unit for the first category and Rs.1.1 per unit for the second category.

For all others, the energy charges proposed by the Corporation were accepted in toto. Again, in the case of those consuming 501 units and above in two months, the Commission allowed a complete and abrupt withdrawal of government subsidy.

As for the criticism that the Commission delivered a tariff shock to the domestic consumers, K. Venugopal, TNERC member, says he Commission has ordered a steep hike in tariff for other categories of consumers such as agriculture. But, it is the policy decision of the government to provide 100 per cent subsidy for agriculturists and this is allowed under the Electricity Act. The future of the State electricity sector has been kept in mind, while revising the tariff, he explains.