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Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, September 09, 2013
Casting aspersions on the functioning of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has pointed out that the former has claimed 2,157 million units excess power in agriculture pump set (AP) category in the past three years which actually was lost in transmission and distribution.

The PSERC assessment has also revealed that the AP consumption during non-paddy season was found to be more than that in the paddy season, which clearly shows that the claims made by the PSPCL were inaccurate.

During the past three years -- 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 -- the Punjab government has reimbursed Rs. 813 crore for the amount of power that is said to be in excess.

In the past three years, the PSPCL has claimed Rs. 13,445 crore as reimbursement for the free power. Since the SAD-BJP government offers free power to the agriculture sector, it reimburses the entire charges to the PSPCL in advance, every three months on the basis of recommendations made by the PSERC.

Giving break-up of the excess reimbursement claimed by the PSPCL, the PSERC has said that in 2010-11, the PSPCL claimed Rs. 135 crore in excess, in 2011-12 Rs. 269 crore and in 2012-13 Rs. 409 crore in excess.

According to an estimate by the PSERC, in the current financial year 2013-14, the PSPCL would claim Rs. 400 crore in excess.

Sources say that in the tariff order for 2014-15, the PSERC would deduct the excess Rs. 1,213 crore, as claimed by the PSPCL.

The PSERC has also corrected the transmission and distribution losses projected by the PSPCL. As against the PSPCL claim of 18.5%, 17.4% and 17%, respectively for 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13, the PSERC has re-assessed it at 19.2%, 18.9% and 19.8%, respectively.

Pointing to the "gross irregularities", secretary power Anirudh Tewari, in a communiqué sent to the PSPCL, has said that the issue of AP consumption was a critical component in tariff determination and affected the state government and PSPCL equally.

"The assessment of AP consumption directly influences the transmission and distribution losses and subsidy to be paid by the state government. It is all the more vital to assess the AP consumption accurately for which automatic meter reading (AMR) data in prescribed format was required to be sent to the PSERC on a regular basis," adds the communication sent by Tewari.

In order to accurately assess the AP, the PSPCL was directed to submit monthly feeder-wise pumped energy as per the grid meters and also AMR data on prescribed format with effect from January 2013.

"But the PSPCL is not supplying the required data for reasons best known to it," said the PSERC.

Tewari has asked the PSPCL to comply with the directives of the PSERC so that AP consumption could be arrived at accurately.