Under attack from all quarters over high power tariff in the state, MSEDCL officials have blamed consumer activists and Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) for the recent steep tariff hike. Senior officials also ask that why these activists don't evaluate the performance of private companies like Tata Power and Reliance.
"MSEDCL had to recover some dues from consumers from 2009-10 onwards. However, MERC did not allow us to do so until this September. Naturally, when an accumulated account is to be recovered in six months, the surcharge will be higher," a senior official said.
The official further said that MSEDCL had done a lot of capital expenditure in the last two years to improve the power infrastructure. "We have to recover this cost from consumers. Under pressure from consumer activists, MERC did not allow us to recover it on time. Now it has told us to recover expenses of two years in six months," he told TOI.
Another official launched a direct attack on the consumer activists. "The rates approved by MERC for wind energy are the highest in the country. MERC is promoting wind energy suo motu. Why have these activists never raised this issue? MSEDCL had repeatedly told the Commission that this costly power would only burden common consumers," he said.
The official further said that MERC's consumer representatives never targeted Reliance for its high industrial power tariff. "Reliance does not have agricultural consumers. Still its tariff is Rs 9.12 per unit while that of MSEDCL is Rs 8.22 per unit and that too for six months. They were also silent during the Tata Power asset valuation controversy. Why do they target only government companies," he asked.
MSEDCL has also contended that while comparing its power tariff with that of Gujarat, the consumer activists forget that subsidy to powerlooms in Gujarat is very low. "The consumer activists want low cross subsidy for industries, low tariff for farmers and powerlooms and other consumers. We don't have a magic wand. If industrial tariff reduces, that of others will increase. Open access will hit poor and middle class consumers. This is the harsh reality and consumer activists must accept it," he stressed.