Much to the discomfort of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) reduced the power tariff for financial year 2015-16 for a section of consumers in domestic and non-residential supply (NRS) for load up to 50 kilowatts. The regulator has also not altered the tariff for consumers under other categories.
The PSERC hinted of slashing the tariff in the coming years with the system becoming more transparent and open. "Certain issues favouring consumers are to be settled with the PSPCL, which will further reduce the power tariff," said a PSERC functionary.
A negligible hike of 2 paise has been ordered for the agriculture pump sets. The PSERC has decided to change the units for measuring power from kilowatt hour (kwh) to kilovolt ampere hour (kVah) for consumers of certain categories from October 1 as this would help improve the quality of power supply, besides bringing down the cost of power.
Despite a whopping cumulative revenue gap of Rs 11,317.78 crore projected by the PSPCL in the annual requirement petition filed by it amounting to a hike of 44.8% in the tariff, the commission allowed an increase of a meagre Rs 45.98 crore in the revenue gap.
"We allowed what is justified and have given a realistic tariff order with no hike in most of the consumer categories," said PSERC chairperson Romila Dubey, hinting that the PSPCL projects exaggerated figures, referring certain heads such as fuel cost, power purchase, employees cost, etc. The PSPCL, on the other hand, has rejected the tariff order terming it "an effort to scuttle PSPCL operations".
The PSERC has worked out a subsidy of Rs 4709.91 crore for free power to the agriculture sector for the current fiscal which was Rs 4454.54 crore in the previous fiscal. The state government has committed to pay a subsidy of Rs 654.86 crore for free supply up to 200 units per months to the scheduled caste domestic consumers and non-scheduled caste below poverty line domestic consumers. The total subsidy bill for the state government works out to Rs 5599.61 crore after including `234 crore on account of subsidy to be paid by the state government for the previous year.
Dubey said the agri subsidy bill had been calculated after collecting realistic data of power consumer from the agriculture feeders, which had been segregated recently.
The PSERC has set a target of transmission and distribution losses for PSPCL in current fiscal to 15.5% against the previous year's 16%. The actual figures after 2011-12 cannot be calculated as the PSPCL has not supplied figures to PSERC.
The commission chairperson said by following the kVah formula, technical losses would be reduced and the high-end consumer could also reduce their power bills.
Keeping in view abundant power availability after the peak season, the PSERC has allowed time of day tariff form October 1 to March 31, which mandates a rebate of Rs 1 per kVah between 10am to 6pm and additional charge of Rs 3 during peak hours between 6pm to 10pm.