But power consumers in Salt Lake and the rest of the state won't feel the bite of a 22% hike, thanks to a queer equation in which arrears and variable costs have been absorbed in the increase.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is averse to any kind of tariff hike that burdens the common man. So, although West Bengal State Electricity Development Corporation Ltd (WBSEDCL) raised the unit rate from Rs 4.96 to Rs 6.07 (with effect from May 2012), there will be minimal change in the actual bill.
No such luck for Kolkatans. The State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) on 03-12-2012 allowed CESC an average tariff revision of 1%, taking the per-unit cost from Rs 6.03 to Rs 6.09. The hike has not spared 'lifeline consumers' (the base slab), who use less than 25 units amonth. They will have to pay 2 paisa per unit more (Rs 3.20 to Rs 3.22). In the other slabs, the hike will be from 2 to 4 paisa per unit. But with the revision effective from April 2012, arrears of eight months will be collected in eight instalments. That means bills from December to July will go up by 2% on average.
The tariff revision will increase CESC's revenue from Rs 5,500 crore to Rs 5,555 crore, said an official.
In the rest of Bengal, the basic tariff went up by Rs 1.11 as SERC allowed the utility to convert the variable charges and arrears that it has been collecting since May 2011 into actual tariff cost. Only the monthly variable cost adjustment that had not been done for eight months (April 2011 to November 2011) will be added to the bill along with the eight months this year (April to November ). Since the payment has to be made in 48 installments , consumers are unlikely to feel the pinch, say WBSEDCL officials.
Price of electricity consumed in domestic households had shot up from Rs 4.96 to Rs 5.38 in December 2011. In February, it was further hiked to Rs 5.76 and then to Rs 6.07 in May 2012. "Since the overall bill value does not go up, our revenue will remain Rs 10,000 crore and there will be no change in dues that stand at Rs 21,000 crore," a WBSEDCL official said.