With voter backlash ahead of the February 16 civic polls no longer a concern, expect the administration to implement tough and pending measures. One among them is a steep 31-44% power tariff hike for domestic consumers in the island city proposed by the civic body-controlled Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST).
The actual hike may be much higher as the undertaking has petitioned the regulator, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), to increase fixed charges by 50% across categories, except for those below the poverty line. The regulator will take a call on the issue on March 26.
The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance had been opposing the undertaking’s move for tariff revision in the run-up to the polls, which it won last week. Though BEST filed the petition on February 15 as directed by MERC, it made the demand public only on Tuesday.
BEST has sought the highest increase (96%) for group-housing projects that avail supply on the high-tension network. It also wants commercial and industrial consumers to pay between 15% and 45% more for power, as well as 50% extra in existing demand charges.
Consumers can send their suggestions and comments to MERC before the March 26 meeting. The commission will also hear consumers in person. If approved, the new rates will be effective retrospectively for the year 2011-12.
Since MERC does not approve of the tariff demand in its totality, domestic consumers (more than six lakh) should expect the hike to be about 10%, said an industry expert requesting anonymity because the matter involves the regulatory panel.
BEST has stated in its application that it is seeking the increase in fixed and demand charges since they have not been revised in the past three years, and because it will be spending more money on purchasing power.
The undertaking has shown a revenue gap of Rs2,182 crore at the existing power tariff, against the total aggregate revenue requirement of Rs4,537 crore. But industry sources say that, of the said revenue gap, about Rs1,400 crore is loss that the undertaking has suffered in its transport business in the past year. “Consumer representatives will raise the matter before the regulator,” said a power expert.