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May 18, 2011

Power tariff hike from May 24

GUWAHATI, May 17 – The Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) and its successor companies have been granted permission by the Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission (AERC) to effect a hike of 25 paisa per unit in power tariff for all categories of their consumers, except for the one belonging to the below poverty line (BPL). For the BPL (Jeevandhara) category, the hike will be of 15 paisa per unit. The revised tariff will come into effect from May 24.
Moreover, another hike in the form of fuel and power purchase adjustment (FPPPA) charge, in the range of 60 paisa to 70 paisa per unit,is also likely to be effected by the ASEB and its successor companies by July 1 next to recover the enhanced fuel and power purchase cost. This is likely to enhance the power tariff by around 85 to 95 paisa per unit by July1 next.
However, the power companies of the State are resorting to load shedding these days to meet the situation resulting from the reduced availability of power. There is a shortfall of around 150 MW to 200 MW of power these days in the State. To meet this situation, the power companies have been resorting to load shedding for one hour in each ofthe areas of the State, except Guwahati, with effect from May 1. Since May 10, Guwahati has been subjected to load shedding.
ASEB sources here said that though the Board is not satisfied with the decision of the AERC and it is likely to prefer an appeal with the New Delhi-based Appellate Tribunal for Electricity against the AERC for its granting such a low tariff, on May 24, it is going to give effect to the AERC May 16 tariff order. The Board and its successor companies are issuing newspaper advertisements too for the purpose, sources said.
On the issue of recovering the FPP cost, sources said that since the State Government is not providing any grant at present to meet this expenditure, the power companies are bound to realize the FPP cost fromtheir consumers.
AERC sources said that the Commissionhas approved tariff hike of around 6 per cent on an average for the financial year of 2010-11and also for the financial years of 2011-12 and 2012-13 on the basis of multi-year tariff (MYT) principle, which is subjected to be reviewed subsequently.
The ASEB's successor companies AssamPower Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL), Assam Electricity Grid Corporation Ltd (AEGCL) and the AssamPower Generation Corporation Ltd (APGCL) had applied for upward revision of tariff at the rate of around30 per cent in February, 2010.
The present revenue gap of the ASEB and its successor companies ascertained by the AERC stands at around Rs 131 crore. But the Commission has allowed them to recover an amount of around Rs 95 crore for the financial year 2010-11. Hence, there is a balance of around Rs36 crore between the requirement of these companies and the recovery approved to them by the Regulatory Commission, sources said.
It needs mention here that the last revision of power tariff was approved by the Commission in July 2009.
The AERC awarded the APDCL an FPPP cost of 13 paisa per unit for the financial year 2008-09. This FPPPA element was not included in the power tariff revised in July 2009. This time also, this amount is not calculated in the main body of the existing tariff and has hence remained as an additional charge.
The 13 paisa FPPPA charge was granted to the APDCL to help it recover an amount of Rs 40.37 crore. It is expected that by July next this 13paisa amount will be able to complete the recovery of Rs 40.37 crore. The AERC approved the FPPPA formula in January, 2010 and notifiedit accordingly through regulations.
The APDCL moved the Government that it would have to go for another hike in power tariff as an additional element at the rate of around 60 paisa per unit against the FPPPA with effect from October 2010.
But the State Government provided asubvention of Rs 187 crore to the APDCL early this year to overcome this situation. This time, the FPPPA charge may be levied by the APDCL atthe rate of 60 paisa to 70 paisa per unit in case the Government fails to provide suitable assistance, said the sources.
It needs mention here that unlike the developed states, the Assam Government has not extended any subsidy to the weaker categories of consumers, or, to the agriculture sector and this has resulted in shiftingof the power sector to the shoulders of the consumers of these categories or sector. (Assamtribune)