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Delhiites hoping for a 50% reduction in their power bills from the new government will instead be hit with a double whammy — a surcharge hike that will take their monthly payments up and power cuts that could last as long as 10 hours.
The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) on Friday approved a quarterly power purchase cost adjustment sought by the three power distribution companies for the October-December quarter. The hike — 8% for areas fed by BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL), 6% for BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and 7% for Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd — would reflect in bills for February to April.
Meanwhile, the stand-off between discoms and the government continued with CM Arvind Kejriwal accusing BPYL of “blackmail” by threatening power cuts of up to 10 hours a day in central and east Delhi from Saturday.
Read: Power struggle on in Delhi
Warning of strict action, including cancellation of licences, he said, “There are no reasons for power cuts. I want to give them a warning that if they try to create panic in future, the government will take strict action against them.”
Million Delhi homes face 10 hour power cuts
The government also said the surcharge hike could have waited as the CAG audit of power firms was still on, while irate resident welfare associations cried foul. “DERC has no authority to arbitrarily increase fuel surcharge sharply without any calculations. The increase is too steep and just another way of blackmailing Delhiites. We will fight back. The government should not stand as a spectator,” said Rajiv Kakria of GK-I.
Defending the surcharge hike, DERC said discoms were buying bulk power at higher rates and they had no option but to pass it on to the consumers.
The discoms welcomed the hike but said they needed more funds to clear their dues with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), which has threatened to curtail supply if they don’t pay up. On Friday, NTPC rejected the government’s request to give the discoms more time to pay their dues.
An official with BYPL, which owes NTPC `179 crore, said, “If we don’t pay immediately, we will have to resort to power cuts in central and east Delhi. We just don’t have the funds to purchase power.”
Delhi’s daily power requirement peaks at about 6,000 MW (it varies seasonally) out of which 3,175MW is supplied by NTPC. Of this, 811MW goes to BYPL areas.
Holding out some hope, DERC chairman PD Sudhakar said, “The power department has asked the Power Finance Corporation and others to help BYPL so it can make the payment. We have supported their move. We are confident the power cuts won’t take place tomorrow (Saturday).” Sources also said NTPC has to serve a three-day notice before stopping bulk supply to BYPL.
Read: BSES discoms trying to blackmail govt, says Kejriwal