‘Under Uday 29 states, UTs hiked power tariff, but not Delhi’

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New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) While most Indian states have hiked electricity tariffs in the last two years under the Centre’s Uday debt restructure scheme for distribution companies (discoms), rates in Delhi were last increased in 2014, the national capital’s discoms have said in a representation to the state regulator, according to an industry source here on Wednesday.

In its periodic tariff revision process, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) held a public hearing here earlier this month with stakeholders, having earlier invited their suggestions in the matter and their tariff petitions.

At the meeting, stakeholders noted that as many as 29 states and union territories have raised power tariffs in the last two years in line with the terms of the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (Uday) started by the central government.

“Moreover, twelve states have raised power tariffs by up to 31.4 per cent in the last three years,” the source said.

While states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Karnataka and Uttarakhand had raised tariffs by 10-20 per cent, Delhi has effected no hikes since 2014, he added.

Under Uday, a state government agrees to take over 75 per cent of the debt of its distribution company. The scheme provides for the balance debt to be re-priced or issued as state guaranteed discom bonds at coupon rates around 3-4 per cent less than the average existing interest rate.

State discoms stand to derive additional benefits by way of cheaper funds, reduction in aggregate technical and commercial losses and interventions in energy efficiency during the period of turnaround.

One of the terms of the Uday agreement requires discoms to make periodic revisions in the power tariffs.

Haryana became the latest to raise rates this month, with the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission increasing the power tariff for 2017-18 from July 1.

The industry source said the revenue gap for Delhi’s three discoms has reached over Rs 34,000 crore on account of a “non-cost reflective tariff”.

The last tariff hike in Delhi was in July 2014. The 5 per cent hike prescribed in this tariff order was for the financial year 2014-15.

The source pointed out that since privatisation of distribution in Delhi in 2002, there has been an increase of around 300 per cent in the cost of purchasing power from generators. On the other hand, the retail tariff has increased by only around 90 per cent.

He said that while Delhi’s bulk power rate — Rs 5.4 per unit — is only over 30 per cent higher than the national average of Rs 4.08, the cost of purchasing power from Delhi’s state generation plant is astronomically higher than the country average.

According to the industry expert, the primary reason behind Delhi getting expensive power is that Delhi discoms are bound by long term power purchase agreements (PPAs) that run for 25-35 years, which were signed with generators well before privatisation and before April 1, 2007.

“These PPAs are one-sided and completely in favour of the generators,” he said. From the perspective of the generators, with electricity demand growth in India not keeping pace with the excess capacity addition and with tariffs falling, producers are facing offtake issues on power that they have not already tied up for sale through long-term PPAs.

JSW Energy Chief Executive Prashant Jain told a news channel earlier this month that while the company had tied up for the offtake of about 65 per cent of its power generation through long-term PPAs, it is facing challenges about disposal of its remaining “untied capacity”.

–IANS

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