A sharp rise in coal prices has sent the cost of thermal power soaring and Delhi, a city where 60% of the power consumed is generated from coal, may pass on this burden to the consumers in the coming months.
The fuel cost surcharge paid by power distribution companies to the thermal power plants has increased by up to 12% of the per-unit cost since February-end, when Coal India revised its rates.
The discoms have communicated this to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), which for some time now has been contemplating a fuel adjustment cost to be levied on consumers.
Sources said the DERC may roll out the new surcharge by August. Discoms are hoping for a surcharge upwards of 20% of the tariff for consumers.
The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), which supplies 70% of Delhi's power, saw a 19% spike in its fuel cost by March-end.
"For us, it's a pass-through because the discoms will pay. But the trouble is for consumers who will have to bear the brunt," said a senior NTPC official.
The discoms said their payout to the generators will go up some more. Hence, the need to share the burden.
"There is usually a lag in the bill period for fuel used by generators to come to us. So the bill we get tomorrow might be for the coal purchased a month or so ago, when prices were still going up," said Gopal Saxena, CEO of BSES Rajdhani, the city's biggest power distributor.
Several discoms across the country have recently received permission from the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to levy a fuel surcharge - over and above the cost of the power - on customers on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Discoms in West Bengal are gearing up for an additional increase of 30-40 paise per unit.