Consumers disappointed with approval for power tariff increase

‘TNERC has not questioned Tangedco over power purchase from private parties while keeping its production down’ 

‘TNERC has not questioned Tangedco over power purchase from private parties while keeping its production down’ 

As Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) approved the proposal for increased power tariff with minimal changes, power utility Tangedco maintained that the increase was not steep. However, consumers were disappointed.

Tangedco said domestic consumers using up to 500 units bimonthly are paying ₹1,130 now. However, if the consumption goes up by just one unit, they have to pay ₹1,786, which is 58.10% higher, and this has been set right in the new tariff structure.

A free supply of 100 units is being continued for all domestic consumers and the free supply will continue for the category of hut consumers, it said. There is no increase for 1 crore consumers out of 2.37 crore of domestic and hut consumers (who account for 42.19%), according to the state utility.

It also pointed out that for 10.56 lakh domestic consumers, using up to 500 units bimonthly, the tariff hike is ₹297.50 a month. For 18.82 lakh domestic consumers using up to 400 units bimonthly, the hike is ₹147.50 a month.

Social activist V. Rama Rao said TNERC has failed to take note of the several representations made by domestic consumers and commercial establishments at the public hearings in the three cities. He said TNERC has not made any attempt to question Tangedco over its power purchase from private parties even while keeping its own production down, and ultimately the burden of loss has been placed on the common man.

Consumer activists also complained about Tangedco resorting to an indirect increase of miscellaneous charges, including registration charges, the meter caution deposit, the current consumption charges deposit, and development fees and services connection charges. Kathirmathiyon, secretary of Coimbatore Consumer Cause, said that introducing a separate category for common utilities was unfair and could be legally challenged.

TNERC has also accepted the proposal for implementing a new scheme for the consumers who wish to opt for giving up subsidy for the free 100 units and reduce the tariff (200-500 units). It noted that Tangedco has proposed to allow an additional service connection only if it is rented or leased out to different families occupying the separate portion and collect a fixed charge of ₹450 for the additional connection.

At the public hearings, many stakeholders expressed anguish that many multi-floor buildings are partitioned in each floor between brothers, sisters and fathers and sons, or any other combination of the same family, without scope for any rental agreement within families. When additional connections were obtained with proper physical segregation, it was not reasonable to impose fixed charges, TNERC noted.

Electric crematoria of the local bodies are being brought under low-tension tariff II-A from low-tension tariff I-A. The tariff increases to ₹9.32 per unit from ₹3.64 per unit. High-tension consumers will pay ₹6.75 a unit (the earlier rate ₹6.35) and a fixed charge of ₹550 per kVA a month as against the existing ₹350.

Private educational institutions (high-tension II-B) will pay ₹7.50 a unit (₹6.35 a unit earlier) and a fixed charge of ₹550 per kVA a month (₹350 earlier). Educational institutions under low-tension II-B (2) earlier came under a single slab of ₹7.50 a unit in consumption charges and ₹60 per kW a month in fixed charges. Now, these institutions have different fixed charges for 0-50 kW, 50-112 kW and above 112 kW, though the consumption charges will be ₹8.50 for all slabs.

Powerlooms continue to enjoy 750 units of free power. But the fixed charges are increased to ₹100 per kW per month and the ranges are in two slabs: 0-250 kWh (₹6.50 a unit) and above 250 kWh (₹7.50 a unit). According to a government order dated September 7, the powerlooms will get ₹50-₹100 in subsidy in the fixed charges and a subsidy in the current consumption charges too.

As for the low-tension commercial category, which covers smaller retail outlets, the energy charges will go up from ₹5 a unit to ₹6 a unit for the 0-50 kWh consumers and to ₹9.50 a unit from ₹8.05 for the above 50 kWh consumers. The fixed charges will vary from ₹100 to ₹550 a kWh, depending on the slab. High-tension commercial consumers will have a single slab tariff with ₹8.50 a unit in the consumption charges and ₹550 a kVA a month in the fixed charges.

For consumers other than domestic, the peak hour charges have been increased to 25% from 20%. The regulator has already amended the morning peak hour duration as 6.00 to 10.00 hours and the evening peak hour duration as 18.00 to 22.00 hours. The 5% incentive continues for night consumption.

(With inputs from M. Soundariya Preetha in Coimbatore).

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