Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company - also known as Mahadiscom - has disputed the electricity bill raised by Dabhol power project, saying the claim has been made unilaterally in violation of the terms of their contract. In a December 31 letter to Dabhol's owners - Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd - Mahadiscom claimed it has paid legitimate dues. It accused the generator of taking "undue advantage" of an order by the Central tariff regulator to claim 'fixed charge'.
Mahadiscom wrote to Dabhol nearly a fortnight after IDBI Bank chairman M S Raghavan sought the Centre's intervention for timely clearing of dues amounting to Rs 497 crore for power bought during the April-July 2013 period and Rs 506 crore towards recovery of 'fixed charges'.
Fixed charge is part of power tariff that discoms pay on capacity generators declared available. This has emerged as a bone of contention for Dabhol in the absence of cheaper domestic gas which has pushed the project to the financial brink.
Mahadisom said its legitimate bill for Dabhol's power was only Rs 437 crore for the period April 2013 to September 2013 and was cleared in parts. It claimed Dabhol has been unilaterally declaring capacity available on the basis of using costlier imported liquid gas to raise fixed charge claims, while the tariff in their agreement is based on cheaper domestic gas.
Dabhol's move violated terms of the contract since Mahadiscom had not given permission to run the plant on imported gas as it could not afford the Rs 7 per unit tariff against Rs 4.35 a unit when domestic gas was being used. Dabhol appears to be going by the order it secured from the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission on July 30, 2013, that allowed it to raise fixed charge on the basis of imported gas. But the dispute is far from over as Mahadiscom has moved the appellate tribunal against the CERC order.