Failing to install electricity meters on all agricultural pump sets in the state will cost Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) dear.
Getting no result after repeated pushing, Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has decided to impose a penalty of Rs 5 crore a year on it. The fine will continue until all 12.25-lakh sets have meters on and the system of recording electricity consumption has become reliable.
Imposing the fine in the tariff order released on August 22, the PSERC pointed out that the PSPCL had not only failed to implement its directions but also rejected its “innovative solution” in the board of directors meeting on October 23, 2013. The orders quotes Section 55 of the Electricity Act, 2003, which mandates 100% metering, and on the basis of which the PSPCL was ordered to install meters at all consumption places, including the pump sets, by March 2007.
The regulatory authority also directed the corporation to furnish a plan for implementing the upgraded automatic meter reading (AMR) model that includes installing and maintaining the shunt capacitors on each pump set to eliminate the need for reading every meter manually. In the tariff order 2013-14, the PSPCL was directed to cover 10% meter this year and 30% meters subsequently every year.
In April 2013, PSPCL had requested the Punjab government to exercise powers under Section 108 of the Electricity Act, 2003, and direct the PSERC not to insist on 100% metering of the pump sets and disallow any expenditure on the grounds of non-compliance. The PSPCL took the plea that agricultural trade unions were opposing the installation of meters, for it was misinterpreted as an effort to impose bills on the tube-well owners. It stated that it had segregated the pump-set feeders already and given free-of-cost electricity to farmers on the basis of sanctioned load and not metered consumption.
The PSERC has observed many times that the PSPCL mixes up transmission losses with consumption by the pump sets. The power corporation has projected transmission and distribution losses to be 16.5%, while the PSERC has found the figure to be more than 18.5%. In its tariff order of August 22 for the current financial year, the regulatory body has corrected power subsidy to Rs 4,454 crore from last year’s Rs 4,778 crore.
It is in spite of the fact that the power sector has imposed maximum tariff hike (7.29%) of all consumer sectors. In the current tariff order, the PSERC has started taking into account not the power consumption that the PSPCL reports but the actual energy that is supplied to the pump-set consumer section.