The slow progress made by the Tata Power Company (TPC) in shifting residential consumers who use under 300 units a month to its side from Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has come in for sharp criticism from the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). TPC has been sent a notice by MERC asking it to appear before it on Thursday with an explanation.
MERC had directed TPC to get as many low-end consumers from RInfra as possible in a year's time-August 2012 to August 2013-to achieve a balance between the consumer mix in both companies. The changeover was needed to correct the skewed consumer blend of RInfra, which has many more low-end users getting subsidized power than high-end users paying at a higher rate.
Shifting low-end residential consumers to TPC would reduce the subsidy burden. In the current tariff scenario, low-end residential consumers can save up to 50 per cent on their bills if they shift to TPC from RInfra.
Over 70 per cent of RInfra consumers are low-end residential users, leaving only about 30% high-consumption customers. TPC has a major chunk of its power customers falling in the high-consumption category of over 300 units a month-both residential and commercial-and relatively few low-end residential consumers.
MERC also pulled up TPC for "negligible" network addition in many city clusters, which would have helped gain low-end users.
MERC also observed that TPC had done negligible laying of network in many clusters in the city.
MERC had also directed TPC to lay its network in 11 different clusters in the city over the past year in order to provide connections to as many low-end residential consumers as possible.
"There has been negligible network addition in Trombay, Virndavan, Mankhurd, Chembur, Arogya Nidhi, Malad BMC Lagoon and Vasantotsav clusters," MERC said in a notice asking TPC to appear before it on Thursday to explain the reasons.
TPC refused to comment on the matter.