Private power distribution companies in Delhi have opposed AAP government's move to penalise them for unscheduled load shedding, saying investment to the tune of thousands of crores would be required to capture exact duration of outage which would require major hike in tariff.
In its communication to Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), Reliance Infra-backed BSES discoms have even questioned "legality" of such a move and said there will be serious difficulties in enforcing penalties on discoms for load shedding.
Delhi government had last month decided to impose financial penalty on the discoms for unscheduled load shedding and asked the DERC to put in place a system immediately for it.
Following the Delhi government directive, the DERC had sought suggestions from all the stakeholders on the issue. In their reply, the two BSES discoms have told DERC that it may require replacing the existing meters with smart meters which on a conservative estimate may entail investment of a few thousand crores.
The BSES discoms said around 50 lakh meters would need to be replaced and cost of a typical smart meter is 6-8 times more than that of the meters being installed today.
Delhi government had proposed to impose a penalty of Rs 50 per hour per consumer for the first two hours of outages followed by Rs 100 for every subsequent hour.
When asked DERC chairman PD Sudhakar said the commission was examining the responses of the discoms and that a final decision will be taken "soon".
Arguing against the proposal, the BSES discoms have told DERC that such a move would be against law as the compensation cannot be paid suo motu and that there has to be a complaint.
"Section 57 of the Electricity Act, 2003 requires that before determination of compensation, the concerned licensee shall be given reasonable opportunity of being heard. The Commission will have to determine if, how and to what extent the person has been affected," BSES said in its response.
The BSES discoms have placed various rulings to argue against the proposal. They said determination of the reason for the outages -whether the outage is on account of distribution, transmission or generation failure or consumer's own installation failure has to be determined first.
The BSES asked who will determine whether the prescribed timelines have been exceeded or not in borderline cases and cases where consumers do not want to seek compensation.
The discoms also argued that cutting of underground electricity cables by civic agencies often causes cut in power supply and that depending on severity of the cut and the depth, at times, it takes several hours to fix such faults.
The Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd is also understood to have opposed the move to impose financial penalty on the discoms.