With an eye on the assembly elections early next year, the Punjab government announced largesse for existing industry on Wednesday here, slashing power tariff for various categories of consumers and giving concessions over what the regulator has recommended.
At a press conference within hours of Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission’s announcing its recommendations, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said the small-scale industry paying Rs 5.75 for each unit currently will pay Rs 4.99 now, on a par with what new industry pays. For medium-scale industry, the rate is down from Rs 6.38 to Rs 5.99 per unit, and for the large-scale industry, it has reduced 11 paise from Rs 6.46 to Rs 6.35 per unit.
The move will benefit more than 1.25 lakh industrial units in the state. There is no decrease in tariff for domestic consumers but the deputy CM said it would be in future, “when our transmission and distribution losses reduce”. He said the new charges were among the lowest in the country.
“The new tariff for industry will come into effect from August 1, till which time, the old rates will apply. There will be no refund to the industry on the bills paid since April 1,” said power secretary A Venuprasad. The government will pay the difference of 41 paise per unit between the government-announced and regulator-ordered tariff for small-scale industry. “The burden is Rs 50 crore. We will move a case for subsidy to the finance department and, when it is approved, to the regulator next,” said Venuprasad.
Sukhbir said the regulator had also decided to abolish peak-load-hours restrictions (PLEC), surcharge (average of Rs 3 per unit), and offered rebate for existing large industrial consumers for consumption beyond the threshold limit. This mean another Rs 200 crore burden on the state exchequer. “It will boost production and create jobs, all possible because of the power-sector reforms of this (Akali-BJP) government,” said Sukhbir, denying that the government had done it for votes.
“Punjab now has the best power environment for setting up industry. It has surplus power,” he said, adding that no grid feeder in the state was overloaded. “We are replacing old thermal-power plants and have reduced the transmission-and-distribution losses from 24 to 14%.”