In a move that is going to burn a hole in the pockets of consumers, the state government has hiked the electricity tariff by 13.29%. The State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) in its revised tariff for year 2013-14 has hiked the power tariff for domestic users by 15.99% as compared to year 2012-13, by increasing it from Rs. 3.69 per unit to Rs. 4.80 per unit.
The SERC that determines tariff for retail supply of electricity within the state has fixed the new tariff for supply of electricity by Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited (HPSEBL) to power consumers of the state for the year 2013-14 with effect from April 1, 2013.
On Saturday, the commission approved expenses and income of the HPSEBL for 2013-14 for tariff purposes. In a release issued here, the commission said the total expenses, including past payables, stood at Rs. 4,609.09 crore, while income from sale of surplus power outside the state was Rs. 149.61 crore.
The commission has provided a surplus, even though a marginal amount, to ensure that board has no reason to incur losses and achieve a turnaround in future under financial restructuring programme of state and Centre. The commission said that power purchase and employee cost were the two main reasons behind the tariff hike. “Positive sign is that there is no significant impact on tariff of the current year expense,” said the release. “Average cost of power purchase per unit is almost same as last year because hydel power stations are cheaper. Employee cost has stabilised due to increase of business volume and no more revision arrears liabilities are pending. The increase is largely due to old liabilities,” the commission said in its report.
Elaborating further, it added that Rs. 270 crore worth arrears were paid with retrospect effect from January 1, 2006.
In an apparent bid to justify the tariff hike, the commission also blamed non-recovery of Rs. 100 crore as survey and investigation charges incurred by the board on hydel projects allotted to developers. The commission fixed the average tariff for all the consumers as Rs. 5.20 per unit. Against this, the tariff for life line consumption is only 68% and for domestic consumption it is about 82%, taking average tariff of Rs. 5.20 per unit.
State government is giving direct subsidy to the consumers, for which Rs. 320 crore have been approved for 2013-14against estimate of Rs. 270 crore in 2012-13.
In the wake of National Electricity Act, the commission has created a separate category of consumers for BPL category families, consuming only up to 40 units of power per month and the tariff for this category stands unchanged at Rs. 2.85 per unit.
Himachal Pradesh has 17,81,586 domestic consumers with per month per consumer consumption coming to 82.12 units. The commission has fixed transmission and distribution (T&D) loss reduction targets for each year during 2011-12 to 2013-14. Against a target of 12.55%, the board brought down the R&D losses by 13.43%.
The commission has said that average shortage of power in the region is about 10% and thus allowed HPSEBL to make additional power purchase of about 500MUs, which is about 6% more than its total requirement and keep it as reserve available round the year.