The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) is likely to issue its tariff order, which determines power bills of individual households and commercial establishments in the city, in the first week of April. The chances of any substantial hike are “very less”, officials said. Officials in the government as well as the DERC told The Indian Express that the order was being finalised and may come as early as April 1. The last tariff order was announced in August, 2017, following a delay.
Power tariff has been a point of contention between the AAP-led Delhi government and the power distribution companies (discoms). While the government is firmly opposed to any kind of tariff revision, discoms have been calling for a hike, citing “mounting losses”.
Earlier this month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Power Minister Satyendar Jain emphasised that there will be no power tariff hike in Delhi in the forseeable future. In fact, Jain has claimed that tariffs can be brought down instead.
The tariff has not seen any major revision since the AAP government assumed office in February, 2015 — one of the key promises made by the party in the run up the Assembly polls. While a marginal hike in the fixed charge component was brought in last year, it didn’t cause any substantial increase in bills. “We are analysing the submissions of all stakeholders, including discoms and people. It is a speaking order so we have to clearly give reasons behind each acceptance or rejection of suggestions. But the hearings are all complete,” an official in the commission said.
The DERC is headed by a chairperson and two members. But the commission, which is a quasi-judicial body, currently has only one member. There have been no appointments to the posts after they were struck down by the Delhi High Court in August, 2016.
The commission is currently assessing the tariff petitions filed by the discoms, all of which have pressed for a hike for the next financial year. The regulator held a public hearing over the matter on March 23. “It was a very low-key hearing. The discoms and representatives of the Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) were present in the meeting,” another official said.
According to sources, the discoms have shown a revenue gap of around Rs 2,192 crore in the average revenue requirement (ARR) petitions for the financial year 2018-19. “The discoms have demanded that the tariffs be increased to take care of entire estimated revenue gap during financial year 2016-17, and the recovery of the revenue gap for the past period due to creation of regulatory assets (dues that have not been paid to the companies and can be recovered from consumers),” sources added.
However, last year, the commission had said that regulatory assets of the discoms were coming down as the number of consumers was increasing. Moreover, an 8% surcharge, which is a component of power bills, also helps discoms recover their past dues.