Barkakati said the impact of gas price increase on electricity tariff had been a concern to all utilities in the country, particularly electricity generated from gas-based power stations purchased by distribution licensees for supplying electricity to the consumers.
Twenty-six per cent of Assam's total power comes from the gas-based power project at Kathalguri and the Agartala gas-based power project.
While the consumers in the state on an average are paying Rs 4.41 per unit of electricity consumed, it will be Rs 4.54 per unit from July 1 next.
"This has also been the case for Assam for quite sometime now and Assam Power Distribution Company Limited, a distribution licensee, has been serving the consumers by supplying electricity purchased from central generating stations of the Northeast, in addition to their own generation from hydel and thermal power stations," he said.
The share of electricity purchased from central sector power stations is 53 per cent, whereas the state's own share is 33 per cent. The remaining 14 per cent is provided by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), Meghalaya State Electricity Board (MeSEB) and Delhi Land Finance (DLF).
The Assam Power Distribution Company Limited had proposed 17.86 paisa per unit hike in tariff as their fuel and power purchase costs had increased.
Central generating power stations, including those of the Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited, have been raising bills on account of fuel charges to the licensee during 2008-09.
The tariff order issued by the regulatory commission in July 2009 did not have provisions for such additional fuel adjustment.
"This has caused financial hardships to the distribution licensee on non-timely payment of dues to their suppliers on account of energy received by them," Barkakati said, adding that the unforeseen situation has aggravated the buying capability of the licensee, necessitating it to appeal before the commission.
Barkakati revealed that in states like West Bengal, Kerala, Delhi and Gujarat, there is a fuel surcharge already in place, primarily for power purchase costs, which are totally beyond control.
In the tariff order issued by the commission in July last year, the rate for 2008-09 was the same as in 2007-08. Till July 2009, it remained the same, for which the licensee could not realise this additional fuel cost from consumers incurred in 2008-09.
"This additional burden is currently managed by the distribution company either by taking a loan with interest or diverting internal resources which has ultimately affected the financial viability of the company," he said.
He referred to the provisions of Electricity Policy, 2003 pertaining to tariff policy, which states that uncontrollable costs be recovered speedily to ensure that future consumers are not burdened with past costs.
A public hearing was held on May 13 where residents and industries opposed the power tariff hike proposed by the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited.
"Power is the main input. We are trying to come out of the recession and the hike will hit us and will have a cascading effect," R.S. Joshi, president of Federation of Industries and Commerce of North Eastern Region, said.
The Consumers' Legal Protection Forum has strongly protested against any hike in power tariff. "It should start computerised billing system and introduce other facilities before talking of a hike," chief co-ordinator of the forum, Ajay Hazarika, said.