WITH ASSEMBLY polls only a few months away, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has kept the tariff unchanged for domestic and non-residential supply consumers, and slashed it for industrial consumers in the new tariff order announced Wednesday.
This is for the second consecutive year that there has been no hike in power tariff in Punjab. The rates for industrial consumers have been slashed from 36 paisa to 11 paisa for “ease of doing business”. A study by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad had pointed out that growth in industrial sector has slowed down and is below national growth rate.
At 61 lakh, domestic supply consumers account for the majority out of total 85 lakh consumers of electricity in the state.
The three categories in industrial sector, namely small power (SP), medium supply (MS) and large supply (LS) account for 1.3 lakh consumers, and the rates for the said categories have been slashed to 38 paisa, 36 paisa and 11 paisa, respectively.
The new tariff will be effective from August 1.
The total amount of power subsidy to be paid by Punjab government has increased to Rs 6,364 crore, up from nearly Rs 5,600 crore in last fiscal. The lion’s share for power subsidy is again reserved for agriculture sector where Punjab government will bear expenses to the tune of Rs 5,197 crore for providing free power to agriculture pumpset consumers. A system of sending power schedule through SMS to the farmers would also be developed to enable them to make labour and other arrangements in advance. There are 13 lakh agriculture pumpsets consumers in the state. As part of energy conservation measure, under a pilot project 100 existing agriculture pumpsets would be replaced by 5-star pumpsets. PSPCL will replicate the project to replace 1 lakh more pumpsets in future.
The state government will pay subsidy bill amounting to Rs 1,167 crore for free supply of 200 units per month to domestic consumers belonging to Scheduled Caste category and non-SC below poverty line domestic consumers with a connected load of 1000 watts or less. Another 70 lakh would be paid by government for subsidised power to dairy, fish, goat and pig farming.
The Commission also decided to to do away with Peak Load Hours Restriction regime with effect from August 1. Consumers will, on the other hand, get a rebate of Rupee 1 per unit during night hours (10 pm to 6 am) from October 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. For large supply industrial consumers, a surcharge of Rs 2 per unit over and above the normal tariff for August and September 2016 (6 pm to 10 pm) has been approved.Addressing a press conference, PSERC Chairman D S Bains said power tariff was not hiked due to a combination of factors, including “surplus power”, and had nothing to do with politics in the poll-bound state. He said the Commission had determined PSPCL’s consolidated revenue surplus for 2016-17 as Rs 166 crore. Besides the projected revenue surplus, Bains said another Rs 270 crore were available to be passed to consumers in terms of relief in tariff and other measures. Giving the break-up, he said under the Uday scheme, Rs 70 crore would be saved due to reduction in interest rate on working capital and Rs 50 crore would be saved due to reduction in interest rate on long term loans. The Transmission and Distribution losses for the current fiscal have been projected at 14.50 per cent, resulting in saving of Rs 150 crore.
Bains said the Commission deliberated upon how to optimise the use of surplus power. He said following a study by IIM Ahmedabad where it emerged that growth in the industrial sector had slowed down and was below the national average, the consultant had recommended that industrial sector needed to be promoted in the state.Citing the “power surplus” scenario in the state, Bains said Commission was working on an array of consumer friendly measures which include quicker release of connections, early restoration of supply, faster replacement of defective meters and simplifying the procedure for release of new connections and extension in load.
As per the new tariff order, the marriage palaces would have to give annual minimum charges instead of monthly minimum charges. Bains said the new arrangement would ensure that marriage palaces do not go in for costly power from power generators.