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Power tariff to soar in State

Special Correspondent
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Discoms project an unprecedented deficit of Rs.18,607 crore

Another round of power tariff hike is in the offing, this time to raise revenue in excess of 40 per cent of the existing income as the distribution companies submitted proposals to the A.P. Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) for permission to raise Rs.12,723 crore additionally from consumers.

In their Aggregate Revenue Requirement (ARR) submitted to the Commission for 2013-14 here on Saturday, the Discoms projected a deficit of Rs.18,607 crore, which is unprecedented in the annals of the power sector in the State.

These proposals come close on the heels of the Rs.10,000-crore burden imposed on the 2.24 crore electricity consumers in the name of fuel surcharge adjustment (FSA) over the past few months. The amount sought now is more than double the sum of Rs.4,950 crore requested by the power utilities in 2012-13.

It is understood that the industry, already reeling under an unheard of power crisis, will face the brunt as the Discoms have proposed an additional levy of Rs.4,728 crore by implementing a uniform rate of Rs.7.59 a unit, irrespective of the load categories.

Domestic and commercial consumers will have to shell out additional sums ranging from 10-30 per cent. A sum of Rs.3,606 crore would be collected from domestic consumers.

The cumulative outcome of the additional levies in the form of FSA and the tariff hike will effectively mean almost doubling of the monthly power bills. A consumer paying Rs.1,000 now may have to shell out over Rs.1,700 a month.

Also, a non-telescopic system of billing will be introduced in place of the existing telescopic method. This implies that a consumer using 500 units a month will be charged at a uniform rate for all the 500 units.

The desperate measures proposed by the power utilities reflect the grave power situation which is expected to worsen in the coming days when the shortage will go up from the present 65 million units a day to 100 mu. The revenue raised through this hike is proposed to be used to purchase power, even at exorbitant rates, from outside sources.

P. Rajagopal Reddy and G. Raghuma Reddy, Directors of AP Central Power Distribution Company, who led the team of Discom officials, said they had projected the ARR at Rs.49,189 crore. The deficit of Rs.18,607 crore would be due to the fact that the companies were getting only Rs.30,582 crore through the present tariff. Apart from income from the tariff hike, the government would offer a subsidy of Rs.5,882 crore to bridge the deficit.

The APERC is expected to issue its tariff order by March 24 after conducting public hearings so that the new rates take effect from April 1, said M.D. Manohar Raju, APERC secretary, who received the proposals.

A glance of the proposals showed that the net deficit after tariff increase, would be Rs.21 crore for AP Eastern Power Distribution Company, Visakhapatnam, indicating a different level of efficiency, while it would be around Rs.2,000 crore for other companies.

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