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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Chances of lower power tariff as good as gone

Avishek G Dastidar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 29, 2011
First Published: 00:04 IST(29/5/2011) | Last Updated: 00:07 IST(29/5/2011)

The Delhi high court may have ordered a fresh power-tariff determination exercise keeping into account last year’s process, which was stalled by Delhi government, but chances of getting a reduced tariff—as last year’s data suggested—is slim because the power regulator has no provision of determining tariff in the back date.

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“We have no way of setting this (tariff) in the back date. So we will take into account last year’s petition and calculations, and also the petitions submitted this year and consider the data as a whole,” said PD Sudhakar, chairman, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission. “We expect to come out with a tariff by August.”

For consumers, this could mean that the glimmer of hope of getting last year’s stalled tariff order passed for a reduced tariff as good as a naught. According to the DERC then, the discoms were sitting on a cash surplus of R3,500 crore.

Former chairman Berjinder Singh had written in a note that if this amount was passed, it would result in a “substantial reduction in tariff”.

This was arrived at after verification and tabulation of the data and factoring in the mandatory public hearing/objections last year. The dispute over tariff was regarding the true-up (approving expenditure of discoms and factoring that in tariff) of the expenses incurred in 2008-09 and setting a tariff for 2010-11.

But the expenditure data furnished by the discoms for the subsequent years (2009-10; whose verification is being carried out now) claims huge losses on account of rising power purchase cost leading to a revenue gap that runs in thousands of crores of rupees. In their true-up petitions this year they have between 60% and 189% hike in tariff.

The note from Singh also said: “The true up for 2009-10, if done without passing the order for true up of 2008-09 and tariff order for 2010-11, may result in some increase in the existing tariff which would be most unfair to consumers when, in fact, there should be a substantial reduction.”

Civil society members, who appoint chartered accountants to decode the true up petitions and file blow-by-blow objections to the demand for tariff increase by discoms, say this would an “unfair and illegal” development.

“How can they consider the expense data of two-to-three years in a clubbed manner to come up with a tariff without giving consumers the benefit that they deserve?” said Anil Sood, member of the DERC’s State Advisory Committee. “We shall raise this matter in the SAC meeting.”


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