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No scope for further tariff hike: UPERC chief

Raj Pratap Singh took over as the chairman of the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) on Monday. After the state government approved his pending request for voluntary retirement from the IAS, a month before his due retirement

lucknow Updated: Jul 12, 2018 15:00 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Tariff,Hike,Raj Pratap Singh
Raj Pratap Singh.

Raj Pratap Singh took over as the chairman of the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) on Monday. After the state government approved his pending request for voluntary retirement from the IAS, a month before his due retirement. He had been selected for the post in March, but continued to function as agriculture production commissioner while waiting for the government to decide on his VRS application. In an exclusive free-wheeling interview Singh spoke on various issues. He categorically said there was little scope for any further increase in the power tariff in the state. He feels that the discoms should try to improve their revenue collection through efficiency gains at the existing tariff rather than demand tariff increase every time. Excerpts:

As a regulator, how do you view the state’s power sector today?

There has been tremendous improvement in the power supply to the consumers of all categories, but there are efficiency improvement issues that the UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL), its discoms and subsidiaries need to address.

Could you dilate on some of those issues?

The detailed presentation on the power sector was made before me yesterday. I think dealing with increasing aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses continues to be a big challenge for the discoms. Besides, their average billing and collection efficiency is poor at merely 54% and a large number of consumers, especially in villages are still unmetered.

Any directions for the UPPCL on filling the annual revenue requirement (ARR) proposal that it was supposed to submit in November last year?

The commission has asked the UPPCL management if they had any plan to submit the ARR for 2018-19 and they said they were working on the same. The commission always has the option of going for a suo moto revision of power tariff if the corporation delays ARR filling.

Do you think there any scope for tariff hike for consumers ?

Absolutely not. The UPPCL/discoms will be asked to make up for their deficits by controlling AT&C losses and theft of electricity, increasing coverage ratio, enhancing bill raising, bill collection efficiency and purchasing cheaper power available. Tariff hike is not the solution at all.

The UPPCL has an ambitious plan for installing smart meters in various cities but the plan, many feel, lacks transparency.

This is why the commission has directed the UPPCL to submit the roll out plan on smart meters and other meters. The commission will examine the same before giving a go ahead. Apart from this, we have also asked them to submit their plans on the purchase of renewable energy under the renewable power purchase obligation (RPPO). The solar energy prices have come down drastically and the discoms must buy the same more and more to minimise the average cost of supply.

First Published: Jul 12, 2018 15:00 IST