Citizens, industry bodies slam Bescom’s tariff hike proposal

Power utility has sought a hike of ₹1.96 a unit for coming financial year

February 08, 2020 01:18 am | Updated 07:35 am IST - Bengaluru

KERC held a public hearing on Friday about the tariff hike proposal.

KERC held a public hearing on Friday about the tariff hike proposal.

Citizen and industry representatives slammed the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) proposal to hike electricity tariff for the coming financial year by ₹1.96 a unit.

At the public hearing held at the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) here on Friday, Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC), in its submissions, said the commission should direct Bescom to submit “realistic projections” and “bring discipline” in procuring power at low cost and not pass on this increase in power purchase cost to consumers by increasing the tariff.

“B.PAC has been analysing the submissions made by Bescom for their annual tariff increase since 2014. Our analysis for FY 2019 shows that Bescom has consistently shown no improvement in any of the key metrics such as power purchase cost, energy sales in MU, and transmission and distribution losses, collection efficiency, and quality of service to citizens, and has never met the commission-approved rates and sale levels,” its submission said.

The committee said between FY 2016 and 2019, sales (in MU) had gone up only by 13%, while the revenue increased by 41% and the average power purchase cost increased by 31%. “The distribution loss increased from 12.03% to 12.54% and energy sold to high tension (HT) consumers has fallen by 2%.

“Karnataka in 2019-20 was blessed with good monsoon rain, and all the dams in the State were filled to capacity. However, in the power purchase projections for FY 2021, Bescom has understated the procurement from KPCL hydel,” the committee said, and alleged that data of the Economic Survey of Karnataka shows a “disproportionate increase in agricultural power consumption as compared with the gross irrigated crop area in hectares over the last four decades, indicating “that agricultural power is being diverted to other sources”.

The Peenya Industries Association urged the KERC to “reject” the tariff revision petition and sought creation of a separate tariff for small-scale industries.

“Bescom should have indicated steps taken for improvement of efficiency. Power purchase cost should go down due to bountiful monsoon,” the association said, and alleged that lack of authenticity in the figures mentioned for irrigation pump sets.

The power utility was allowed a 33 paise per unit increase by the KERC last year. Justifying the steep hike that it has asked for this year, Bescom cited a revenue deficit of ₹5,872.08 crore for 2020–21. It has also sought a hike in fixed charges per month from ₹60 to ₹85 for the first KW, and from ₹70 to ₹95 for additional KW.

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