At least 24 lakh suburban Mumbaiites may have to face power cuts or pay more for electricity after July if the dispute between suburban power distributor Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) and one of its major suppliers, Tata Power Company (TPC) continues.
TPC on Tuesday rejected the state’s order to continue supplying 358 MW to RInfra at regulated rates until July saying this would cause hardships to its consumers.
“The state directed Tata Power to supply 360 MW to RInfra. But TPC demanded a supply of 160 MW in their consumer belt. Now they have threatened not to follow this directive and completely stop supply,” said Lalit Jalan, chief executive officer, RInfra. .
RInfra’s daily demand is 1,735 MW and TPC’s share in it is more than 20 per cent. TPC wants to divert the electricity to its own consumers because its consumer base is expanding.
On Wednesday, officials from RInfra said the situation could turn bad once TPC stops supply or cuts it to 200 MW instead of 358 MW.
“We will have to purchase electricity from the open market at much higher rates of Rs 6.50 or Rs 7 per unit. As there is dearth of electricity across the country, we will be forced to implement rotational load shedding, as a worst-case scenario,” Jalan said.
The per unit cost of electricity to suburban consumers is Rs 3.50 a unit.
Neither the island city nor the western suburbs have faced power cuts even when rural Maharashtra is reeling under 12-hour cuts.
That could change if the dispute between RInfra and TPC is not resolved.
The government, however, is optimistic. Energy Secretary Subrato Ratho said: “We have not received any official communication from Tata Power regarding refusal to accept our suggestions. I don’t think Tata Power will refuse. The government does not want trouble for consumers and will not allow power cuts or hike in tariff. We are always ready to listen to the grievances of both TPC and RInfra.”
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission had asked both companies to sign a long term Power Purchase Agreement to eliminate supply problems.
Both companies are, however, blaming each other for not initiating the process.
RInfra also claimed it had offered to handover Ghatkopar, Sion, Kurla and Vikhroli to TPC for supplying power. It said it would collect bills on TPC’s behalf.
The offer was made at a meeting between RInfra, TPC and Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on April 25.
RInfra said TPC could use its network for Rs 1.20 per household.
“We were ready if Tata Power wanted to use our network and supply electricity to 5 to 6 lakh consumers in the eastern suburbs. However, Tata Power refused,” Jalan said.