Consumers in the island city will have to shell out at least 30-35 paise more per unit for electricity from April.
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) allowed the Brihanmumbai Elec-tric Supply and Transport undertaking (BEST) last weekend to recover Rs443 crore from its consumers to recover the loss it has incurred in its transport business.
In addition to supplying electricity to the island city, BEST also runs a public transport service. A ruling by the Supreme Court has enabled BEST to demand more money in order to cover the transport deficit.
BEST had sought Rs 901.20 crore for the years 2009-10 and 2010-11, but the commission approved only Rs 443.58 crore.
BEST consumers are expected to face yet another hike in the coming month when MERC will decide on the company's petition for tariff determination for the current year. BEST has asked the regulator to approve a hefty hike of 31-44 per cent in energy charges for its domestic consumers. The hike, if any, would take effect from April, and the sum of Rs 443.58 cr will also be recovered from next month.
In seeking relief, BEST argued before the commission that its transport business made losses because of subsidised bus fares. MERC asked BEST to ensure that the transport business becomes self-sufficient over five years, by improving operational efficiencies to reduce its expenses.
A couple of years ago, the Supreme Court decided that as per the Electricity Act 2003, BEST's electric supply business can subsidise its transport business because it is a local authority that has been engaged in the business of electricity distribution since before the commencement of the Electricity Act. BEST has been unable to entirely off-set the losses from its transport business since 2004-05.