Power bills in the capital are set for a steep rise from next week after regulatory watchdog Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) on Friday announced a hike in electricity tariff by up to 6%, effective from 15-06-2015.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had promised to provide cheaper electricity to Delhiites on the run-up to polls earlier this year, said it would seek a review of the order as well as convey its disagreement to DERC in writing. "We have also decided to seek opinion for taking legal recourse against this decision, which... is uncalled for, since no financial burden should be passed on to consumers," a government statement said.
Residents of north and northwest Delhi, who get power supply from Tata Power Delhi, will have to pay a surcharge of 4%, NDMC consumers will pay 5% more and residents whose power suppliers are BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna will pay the highest surcharge of 6%. The hike will be reflected in power bills from June 15 onwards and is applicable for the next nine months.
The hike is on account of the power purchase adjustment charges (PPAC) surcharge, which the watchdog had to pass on to consumers. It followed a May 25 Appellate Tribunal of Electricity (APTEL) order which had given DERC three weeks to pass the order, the deadline for which lapses on Sunday. Simply put, the surcharge will help compensate city discoms for rise in the power purchase cost.
Reacting to DERC's decision, power minister Satyender Jain tweeted, "Delhi government will ask DERC to review its order of power tariff hike between 4% and 6%. We disagree with tariff hike''. The government statement, issued later, called for a status quo "till all issues arising out of the functioning of power distribution companies are sorted out".
It added, "There are a lot of questions about the functioning of these private discoms in Delhi, and the government is committed to get to the root of this problem. The government is of the view that the DERC should wait for the report of the CAG before taking any decision on the electricity tariffs in Delhi,'' said a government spokesperson.
TOI had reported last month on the APTEL order that supported the discom's claims for PPAC surcharge. Aggrieved discom, Tata Power Delhi, had gone to the tribunal in March complaining over not getting PPAC surcharge for three quarters, (July 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015) despite submitting their petitions to DERC on a regular basis. Tata's petition was supported by the two BSES discoms, who added that DERC's failure to give them the surcharge despite APTEL's 2011 directions, had only worsened their financial situation.
"In compliance with APTELs order, the Commission has taken into consideration the claims... of discoms and has decided to spread the claim of these three quarters and approves the PPAC order on a provisional basis for nine months, or further order, whichever is applicable,'' said the DERC order. "While finalizing the provisional PPAC charges, the Commission has taken into account different entitlement of the respective discoms based on a preliminary prudence check," said DERC.
Discoms said they were forced to approach APTEL as the regulator remained mum on passing the PPAC surcharge for over seven months since the last PPAC order of Q2 was withdrawn by DERC last November only a day after passing the order. "Three quarters of PPAC (quarter2 which is July 1 to September 30,2014; quarter3 which is October 1 to December 31, 2014 and quarter 4 which is January 1 to March 31, 2015) have not been given despite an APTEL judgement of 2011 whereby the tribunal had passed clear directions that PPAC was to be provided for by all state commissions on monthly basis or maximum on quarterly basis,'' said the discoms.
DERC maintained that they had not passed the PPAC orders for these orders as they had started the process for tariff determination for 2015-16 and the same would be subsumed in the tariff order. APTEL, however, did not agree with DERC's contention and order the regulatory body to pass the orders.