Consumers, who have had little respite from outages in Haryana this season, will have to pay more for power. Power distribution companies, Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) and Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN), on Friday imposed fuel surcharge, ranging from 17 paise to 45 paise per unit on domestic, non-domestic and industrial consumers, to recover extra expenditure incurred on their costly short-term purchases.
While the consumers in agriculture sector have been yet again spared from the increase, hapless domestic consumers in urban areas such as Gurgaon, Faridabad and Panchkula, whose monthly consumption is above 251 units per month, have been hit the hardest, having to pay 33 paise per unit more on consumption between 251 to 400 units per month and 35 paise per unit more above 401 units a month.
Non-domestic, industrial and institutional category consumers also have to shell out more for power now. The increase is applicable with retrospective effect from September 1, 2012. The imposition of fuel surcharge adjustment (FSA) - the third increase in electricity charges in the current financial year - was quietly notified by the two state-owned distribution companies on September 21 after a go-ahead from chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
The power rates, including the FSA and fixed charges for consumers of several categories in the state, were already among the highest in the northern region. The latest FSA, which is in addition to the two ongoing fuel surcharges, will remain in force for the next three months. The fuel surcharge has been levied to recover additional Rs 350 crore incurred by the distribution companies on costly short-term purchases in the first quarter (April-June) of the current financial year.
The power consumers now need to get accustomed to the new FSA procedure wherein the discoms would revise the surcharge on a quarterly basis to adjust their power purchase costs without going to the three-member Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) headed by RN Prasher, a retired IAS officer, for approval. The power regulator had in June 2010 amended the HERC (Terms and Conditions for Determination of Wheeling Tariff and Distribution and Retail Supply Tariff) Regulations, 2008, to delegate powers for recovery of fuel surcharge on monthly basis without having to come to it for approval. The two utilities have now implemented it.
Besides, the consumers may have to brace themselves for another hike as the power companies spent an additional Rs 2,200 crore on short-term purchases in 2011-12, but are still to recover it from them through fuel surcharge. The heavy short-term purchases by the discoms at high costs reflect poor planning, besides being a result of frequent shutdown of power plants due to technical snag.
What is FSA?
It is the gap between the cost of power purchase allowed by the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission on a projected basis while determining the annual revenue requirement of the distribution companies and the actual cost incurred on the power purchase. The additional expenditure is recoverable from the consumers by way of fuel surcharge adjustment. In case of delay or staggered recovery, there is a provision of holding cost. It is levied in addition to basic tariff, fixed charges, electricity duty, meter charges etc. (For details: Check Hindustan Times, September 23, edition)