Industries blame power utility for huge losses due to interrupted supply
“Give us quality power, free from interruptions first and prove that you can sustain it. Then apply for hike in tariff.” This was the stinging indictment at the public hearing on Bangalore Electricity Supply Company's (Bescom) tariff hike application at the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) here on Thursday.
Several consumers, including the Karnataka Association of Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA), Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), Laghu Udyog Bharati–Karnataka, Bharatiya Kisan Sangha (BKS), Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Peenya Industries Association (PIA), Karnataka Textile Mills' Association (KTMA), Karnataka State Electricity Consumers' Forum and Consumer Care Society, berated Bescom's quality of service. Bescom has sought a hike of 75 paise.
The associations alleged that they had suffered huge losses owing to interrupted supply and frequent power cuts. They alleged that many industrial units had been forced to close shop due to unreliable power supply. The associations also said that though Bescom has claimed to have completed enumeration of irrigation pump (IP) sets, the figures have not been furnished. Bescom had claimed during the previous tariff revision that it had regularised all IP sets. However, this time, it claims that there are 45,752 IP sets which still need to be regularised. With this and non-metering of IP sets, Bescom can easily manipulate assessed consumption and subsidy.
V.S. Rajagopal from KTMA said that textile mills in the State have to compete with not only those in Andhra Pradesh, but also in China, Indonesia and Bangladesh. At present, the tariff difference in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka is 70 paise. He urged KERC to consider the textile industry as agriculture supportive industry and provide incentives for power consumption during night hours and installation of energy-efficient machinery.
Farmers representing the BKS questioned why the utility could not make use of technology and bring down transmission and distribution (T and D) loss. They said that despite several promises, Bescom had not taken up an energy audit. Bescom should not differentiate between urban and rural farmers. “The utility promises 12 hours' supply, including six hours of three-phase power. What is the use of providing three-phase power at night?” they asked.
Consumers' associations touched upon failure in the distribution network, failure to regularise IP sets and lack of maintenance of the transformers. They alleged that Bescom was not following the load forecast regulations. “Since Bescom has stated that it is not facing any shortage problems, will the utility confirm that during FY 11, 12 and 13 there will be no load shedding and that the tariff application will be dealt with on this basis?” they asked.
They also opposed the proposed higher power tariff during peak hours, though they agreed for a lower tariff during non-peak hours. “There should be tariff neutrality for peak hours and reduced tariff for use of power during non-peak hours,” they added.