A section of high-end BEST consumers is keen to migrate to the Tata Power Company (TPC) for cheaper electricity, said sources .Some commercial establishments in the island city have already applied to TPC for load consumption of nearly 45 MW, it was learnt.
"We fear that this kind of migration will be disastrous for the BEST undertaking and it will have serious implications on the tariff for residential consumers," a senior BEST official said.
The official said that if high-end consumers moved to TPC, it would affect the cross-subsidy for low-end residential consumers of BEST, resulting in an increase in tariff for them.
BEST already charges the highest tariff in the city and there are plans to increase the rates by 14% to 16% from April.
As for TPC, it recently got its licence renewed and received permission from the regulatory commission to distribute electricity in the island city across all categories, breaking the monopoly enjoyed by BEST.
Now, between Colaba and Sion-Mahim, it is up to the electricity consumer to choose his distribution company from among the two power suppliers.
The latest list of applications for migration shows that TPC is the preferred distribution company for cheaper power in the city.
It is still not clear whether TPC has given the go-ahead for providing new power connections. Senior TPC officials were unavailable for comment.
"TPC cannot use BEST's distribution network to supply power," a BEST official said. "It will have to lay its own distribution network in the island city in a time-bound manner."
It is learnt that most of the new applications for switching over from BEST supply to TPC have come from commercial establishments situated close to TPC sub-stations.
"A Supreme court order had directed power utility firms to follow universal service obligations and supply power within stipulated time span," a power expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. "Any failure to do so will invite a penalty payable to electricity consumers at the prescribed rate of Rs 1,000 per day per consumer."
A past survey in the suburbs had shown that those switching from RInfra to TPC in the suburbs had also saved up to 46% on their monthly bills.
Across the city, TPC has been successful in setting up 333 km of high-tension network and 437 km of low-tension network. It has invested Rs 1,000 crore.
Sources said the average BEST billing rate of Rs 10.93 per unit is almost 40% higher than that of the TPC rate of Rs 7.10 per unit. BEST has 10.5 lakh consumers, 3.5 lakh of them high-end.