The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) has criticised state electricity regulator MERC for ordering transfer of 7.92 lakh low-end consumers of RInfra to Tata Power saying it has "exceeded its jurisdiction" by issuing such directions.
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) had last year, ordered transfer of RInfra's 7.92 lakh low-end residential consumers with a monthly power consumption of up to 300 units to Tata Power's distribution arm from November 1 last year.
"The state commission has exceeded its jurisdiction in giving the directions for transfer of about 7.92 lakh consumers in 0-300 units slab en-mass to Tata Power while being connected to RInfra's distribution system. These directions have been passed in violation of the principles of natural justice," APTEL said in an order uploaded on its website today.
The regulator said its decision was to foster competition in the distribution business and accordingly allowed Tata Power to take low-end consumers of RInfra from the 11 clusters identified by the regulator. It also said the move would protect consumer interest, specifically that of the low-end ones as Tata Power would be offering power at cheaper rates.
Before issuing the order MERC had asked TPC to have its own distribution network in place in the designated 11 clusters, which TPC failed to implement.
MERC had, suo motu, ordered TPC to supply electricity to these new low-end consumers from RInfra's distribution network and directed it to pay wheeling, regulatory asset charges and other costs to the latter. RInfra had, however, challenged MERC's order in the APTEL.
The tribunal observed that consumers connected to RInfra can become direct consumers of Tata Power only by switching over to the latter's distribution network.
"The choice of supplier has to be exercised by the consumer by giving an application. We feel that Merc has exceeded its jurisdiction in passing the impugned directions for transfer of RInfra's consumers to Tata Power," the order said.
Currently, Tata Power has a consumer base of over 5.63 lakh which also include the switchover customers.
Tata Power charges Rs 2.38 per unit and Rs 4.45 per unit for changeover customers whose intake is up to 100 units and 300 units, respectively, while RInfra on the other hand charges Rs 3.92 per unit and Rs 6.84 per unit, respectively.