Escoms to take over power supply

BANGALORE May 29. From June 1, the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) will not be involved in the retail supply of electricity — the new electricity supply companies (escoms) will be doing the job.

On Wednesday, the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) passed an order issuing "retail supply licences" to the Bangalore, Mangalore, Gulbarga, and Hubli escoms.

The order says the licences become effective on June 1 or the date the escoms accept the assignment. This is because the licence is one the KPTCL has assigned them. "They (the escoms) have to, therefore, accept the assignment,'' KERC sources told The Hindu.

The licences issued are only for three months. "This is a stop-gap arrangement. After that, the escoms must apply to the KERC for regular licences,'' KERC officials explained.

Be that as it may, from June 1, Bangaloreans and people in other parts of the State will get electricity from Bescom, Mescom, Gescom, and Hescom. "Now Bangaloreans must call up the Bescom MD (P.B. Ramamurthy) for airing their grievances," the KPTCL CMD, V.P. Baligar, remarked. He said that on June 1, he would go to Hubli to launch Hescom.

Asked about the rates the escoms would charge, he said the prevailing tariffs would apply. The increased rates approved by the KERC have not yet been cleared by the State Government. The clearance was expected with "the onset of the monsoon'', according to sources.

From June 1, all services relating to the electricity supply business will be handled by the escoms. "Even if the bills are still in the KPTCL's name, it is the escoms who are responsible," Mr. Baligar said. He added that the escoms had been asked to get their own stationery printed as soon as possible.

In Bangalore for instance, all KPTCL employees, from the lineman to the Chief Engineer, have been either transferred or sent on deputation to Bescom, according to Mr. Baligar. Recently, the Government issued a draft of the Karnataka Electricity Reform (Transfer of Undertakings of KPTCL and personnel to the Escoms) Rules, 2002. The Government had given KPTCL employees time till May 25 to send objections against the provisions. The Bescom office is located at K.R. Circle. The MD, Mr. Ramamurthy, is available on phone (227 6366).

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