The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has ruled out any reduction in power tariff despite demands for the same following the monsoon. There are, however, indications that the board might soft-pedal on filing a surcharge petition with the regulator to recoup an additional amount of Rs 2,000 crore it spent on purchase of high-cost power last financial year.
Board sources said the state government had not given a green signal to the filing of surcharge petition before the electricity regulatory commission. Though the board technically needs no clearance from the government for filing a surcharge petition, the general practice is that it files such petitions only after seeking the consent while the commission approves collection of surcharge from consumers in equal instalments.
Former electricity minister A K Balan and a few others had recently appealed to the board to cut the tariff after the state received more rainfall than expected this monsoon. The board, however, contends that the monsoon doesn't improve the board finances.
"Till 90s, the KSEB used to meet 90% of the domestic demand with hydel sources. Now, even during the peak of monsoon, the maximum the board can generate from hydel sources is 75%, and that too for a few days. There are also other reasons that go against any tariff reduction. While the board could save only Rs 71 crore owing to monsoon, the additional expenditure on power purchase during April and May alone was Rs 260 crore," member (finance) S Venugopal said.
According to the board, it spent Rs 816 crore for power purchase in April against Rs 667 crore approved by the regulator for the month. Similarly, it had spent Rs 825 crore for power purchase in May against Rs 714 crore approved. The purchase bills came down by Rs 12 crore in June and Rs 24 crore in July from amounts approved. It could also sell power to the tune of Rs 35 crore till August 23.
"In effect, the monsoon helped the board meet Rs 71 crore of the Rs 260 crore it spent additionally for power purchase just before the onset of monsoon. However, over Rs 2000 crore the board spent to meet power demands during last year remains to be realized,'' Venugopal said.
The board had also signed agreements for purchase of 400 MW power, which it is not drawing now. It pays a penalty of Rs 2/unit for surrendering this power.