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Home News Power Sector News Delhi private discoms looks for huge hike- Consumers become Powerless

Delhi private discoms looks for huge hike- Consumers become Powerless

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DERCWhile Delhi’s private power distribution companies have submitted petitions for a tariff hike and various consumer forums are studying documents to prepare their objections to the hike, the general feeling among many residents’ representatives is consumers are underrepresented even seven years after the power sector was privatised. The private power distribution companies (discoms) proposed a 70-per cent increase in tariff in their petitions to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) a few weeks ago. The DERC, which will eventually decide on the hike, has extended the deadline for submitting objections against the discoms’ petition to February 15 to give consumers more time to prepare their case.

But Pankaj Aggarwal, president of the Delhi joint forum of Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs), said the discoms’ petition is too full of jargon for the lay consumer to understand and take a position. “As a general rule, discoms submit their Annual Revenue Requirement (ARR) to DERC and consumers formulate their objections to points raised in the ARR,” Aggarwal said. “But the ARR is usually at least 1,000 pages long and littered with technical and legal jargon that is beyond the grasp of the normal consumer.

“As stakeholders, what we really need is the help of technical, financial and legal experts to decipher and analyse these documents, and prepare our objections.”

Aggarwal has chosen to drop out of the tariff fixation process because he feels the debate is not consumer-friendly.

Anil Sood, a member of NGO Chetna who has been filing objections regularly since the power sector’s privatisation, also said the process is mired in language beyond the grasp of the average consumer. “Each year, one or two consumers come to me with valid objections,” he said, “but on the whole, consumers do not participate in the process.”

These objections sometimes lead to concrete results. Last year, for instance, Sood’s major argument revolved around BSES’s two discoms — BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna — functioning as one entity, governed by a single CEO. Late last year, DERC finally demanded that the two discoms should be run by different CEOs in the interest of transparency and efficiency.

Another consumer who has taken up the cause is I B Sharma, general-secretary of the Arjun Nagar RWA. Sharma hopes the discoms will be able to explain why they impose a fixed charge on consumers. “Eventually, any effort by consumers ensures that the process remains transparent,” Sharma said, “and I hope more people get involved.”

For its part, DERC has tried to simplify the system this year. Not only has it made the entire petition filed by the discoms available but has also highlighted salient features of the major points. “We have made available the salient features in simple language so that more consumers can understand the process and feel enabled to get involved,” a DERC official said.

Source- Indian Express

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