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Friday, July 23, 2021

Discoms cite second Covid wave, possibility of a third, make push for increase in Delhi’s power tariff

The BSES – which covers vast areas of Delhi through BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna – has revised its projected revenue gap substantially.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
Updated: July 2, 2021 10:01:17 am
In sector 23 C, power supply is being cut from 10 pm to 12 am every day for the past five days.

Citing the “grave impact” of the Covid-19 second wave and the possibility of a third wave, Delhi’s three discoms have been pushing for an increase in power tariff with the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission.

DERC chairman Justice (retd) Satyendra Singh Chauhan, who is set to retire on July 4, told The Indian Express, “July 4 is going to be my last working day. I can only say that I have completed the base work on the next tariff order. The discoms caused some delay in submitting information sought from them. Whatever factors they may have cited, the new tariff order will be decided based on the prevailing circumstances.”

The BSES – which covers vast areas of Delhi through BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna – has revised its projected revenue gap substantially. Revenue gap refers to the difference between the income and expenses incurred by the discoms, and its increase reflects decline in financial health of the companies.

The Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL) has also filed a fresh petition with the DERC. On June 8, it wrote to the commission saying the impact of a possible third wave, “already declared by the government and medical/scientist fraternity” should be considered while announcing the new tariffs.

The DERC is technically an autonomous body, however, sources pointed out that any changes in power tariffs appear unlikely with the AAP making power consumption free up to 300 units a major promise in the run up to the Punjab Assembly polls next year.

Earlier, the discoms in Delhi had pitched for a system to make the mechanism of tariff revision “apolitical”.

The revised tariff petitions filed by the discoms in the months of May and June, seen by The Indian Express, reflect a sense of anxiety over the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. To be sure, the discoms have been demanding a power tariff hike over the last six years.

While the BSES Rajdhani has increased its projected revenue gap in 2021-22 from Rs 1,703 crore to Rs 3,577 crore, the BSES Yamuna, which covers East Delhi, has increased the projected gap from Rs 1,148 crore to Rs 1,945 crore. The TPDDL, which had earlier filed that its expects a revenue gap of Rs 1,108 crore unless rates are revised, wrote to DERC after the second wave saying it expects further dip in income in 2021-22 compared to the previous year.

“It was believed, based on reasonable assumptions at that time, that slowdown from the first wave would be minimal and commercial, industrial and public utilities such as DIAL, DMRC’s etc. consumption will ramp up in full swing starting from April, 2021… The impact of this second wave is more widespread and severe which has created a situation more dismal and catastrophic from even last year. This is unlike anything that anyone has witnessed so far,” the BSES filed.

The DERC had earlier fixed April 20 as the deadline for accepting comments and suggestions from stakeholders, including the general public and the RWAs, on the petitions filed by the discoms. Later, after the revised petitions filed by the discoms, the deadline was extended to June 29.

Chauhan had joined the commission on July 5, 2018. Under the Electricity Act, 2003, chairman and members of the commission shall hold office for a term of five years or till the age of 65 years, “whichever is earlier”. He turns 65 on July 5.

As reported by The Indian Express in April, the Delhi government has started looking for Chauhan’s replacement. In the absence of a full time chairman, a DERC member secretary can assume the role of an acting chairman and announce the new tariff order.

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