WHILE CONSUMERS in Mumbai will see a nominal increase in electricity bills from next month, those from other parts of the state will see it rise by 3 to 5 per cent, according to a tariff order released by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). Agricultural consumers will see a hike of around 6 per cent. The new tariffs are effective from September 1, 2018.
Earlier this year, the commission had admitted petitions for tariff revision for 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscals from all distribution companies — Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL), Tata Power, Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) and Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited. The commission also conducted public hearings across the state on the matter.
MSEDCL consumers will see an average hike of 3 to 5 per cent in the 2018-19 fiscal and a 4-6 per cent increase in the next fiscal. The 1.32 crore residential consumers of the state-owned distribution company using less than 100 units will be charged 24 paise more per unit.
Agricultural consumers with meters will have to pay 20 paise more per unit — a hike of around 6 per cent.
But consumer groups said the commission’s calculations were not transparent. Pratap Hogade, convenor of a state-wide consumer association, said: “The existing tariff is Rs 3.13 per unit. But the commission has said that the existing tariff is Rs 3.35 per unit. We do not know how the calculation was done. Moreover, for Mumbai consumers, there is a maximum of 1 per cent increase but for rural consumers, it is much higher.”
A MERC official told The Indian Express that for agricultural consumers, the commission has considered an average bill rate of Rs 3.35 per unit, which takes into account some variables, apart from the standalone rate.
Experts said the hike in tariff for farmers will only add to the bulging arrears of the discom, particularly when farmers are alleging overbilling. “With the increase in tariff for farmers, the total billing for MSEDCL will go up to Rs 4,800 to Rs 5,000 crore per month. In the past five years, the discom has been able to collect around Rs 300 crore. So this increase will hardly help the discom,” said Ashok Pendse, an industry expert and a consumer group representative.
The discom had sought to recover a revenue gap of Rs 34,646 crore in the next two years. But the commission has approved Rs 20,651 crore. Of this, only Rs 8,268 crore has been allowed to be recovered through tariff increase.
Consumers in south Mumbai, where BEST is the supplier, will see their bill amount decrease from next month. Consumers in other parts (where Tata and Adani are the suppliers) will see a nominal rise between 0-1 per cent, according to the new tariff order announced on Wednesday. Consumers of Adani (formerly Reliance Infrastructure Ltd) will have an overall increase of 0.24 per cent in tariff.
For consumption of 100 units, the average billing rate for residential consumers of Adani will be 52 paise more per unit, from now till March next year. After that the consumers will have to pay 32 paise more till March 2020. Tata Power consumers will have to pay 20 to 70 paise more per unit till March 2019 and 25 paise more after that for another year.
MERC to verify agricultural bills
The MSEDCL’s billing process for agricultural consumers has been under the scanner. While farmers have complained about overbilling, the company has said the bills are under representative of the actual consumption owing to faulty meters. To settle the matter, the MERC has now taken it upon itself to verify the agricultural consumption assessment. A commission will hire a third party to conduct a field survey and verify the bills of agricultural consumers of the MSEDCL. The survey is expected to be completed by March 2020, said officials of MERC. The current tariff will be subject to the outcome of the verification process.