People already reeling under high inflation will now have to shell out more on electricity bills with city's power regulator today announcing a nearly 22 per cent hike in tariff for almost all categories of consumers.
In more bad news for consumers, the tariff may also go up every three months as regulator -- DERC -- decided to review the electricity rates quarterly to adjust the power purchase cost of the distribution companies. The new rates, announced today after a prolonged controversy, will come into effect from September 1.
"We have decided to increase the tariff by 21.77 per cent. The hike is necessary as power sector is not insulated from inflation and other market parameters," PD Sudhakar, chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission told reporters.
As per the new rates, a domestic consumer will be charged Rs3 per unit for first 200 units of power instead of current Rs2.45.
The rate for per unit of power has been increased to Rs4.80 from current Rs 3.95 per unit for usages between next 200 unit to 400 unit while Rs5.70 per unit will be charged instead of current Rs4.65 for usages beyond 400 unit.
The monthly fixed charges for consumers having a sanctioned load of upto 2 kilowatts have been increased from Rs24 to Rs30 while consumers having sanctioned load between 2 kilowatts to 5 kilowatts will have to pay Rs75 as fixed charges instead of current Rs60.
The fixed charges for consumers having a sanctioned load of above five kilowatt will have to pay Rs15 instead of current Rs12.
Sudhakar said DERC will adjust the rates after every three months depending on increase in power purchase cost. He said power purchase cost keeps changing due to increase or decrease in cost of fuel used for production of power.
For the non-domestic consumers, the rate has been increased from Rs5.40 to Rs6.50 per unit of power for those having a sanctioned load upto 10 kilo watt while per unit of power has been hiked to Rs6.10 from Rs4.92 per unit for consumers having sanctioned load between 10 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts.
The DERC announced separate rates for industrial units, agricultural activities, public lighting etc.
For Delhi Metro, rates have been increased to Rs3.80 from Rs3 per unit while for Delhi Jal Board it has been hiked to Rs5.60 from Rs4.70.
Citing severe liquidity crunch, all the three private power distribution companies in the city have been demanding a hike in the range of 50 to 60 per cent.
In May last year, the city government had through a notification stalled DERC's decision to announce the annual tariff for 2010-11 till it re-examines the demands from discoms to increase the rates.
The DERC, which was making last minute preparations to announce the new tariff, after receiving the government directive had indicated that it had planned to cut down the tariff by 20 to 25 per cent as discoms would have a surplus of around Rs4,000 crore if the existing tariff was not changed.
Although DERC was strongly arguing for a cut in tariff, the three-member regulator, following retirement and subsequent appointment of two new members, gave indication of taking a sympathetic approach to the demands of the discoms.
The government's notification was quashed by Delhi High Court in February, describing the intervention as "absolutely unjustified, unwarranted, untenable".
While effecting the hike for the private discoms, the Commission has kept electricity rates at significantly lower level for NDMC areas where power is distributed by the civic agency itself.
For first 100 units, a consumer in the NDMC area will have to pay Rs2 per unit while it will go up to Rs 2.70 for units between 101 and 200. The per unit charge will go up to Rs3.60 for usages between 201 and 400 units and for above 400 units it will be Rs4.35 per unit.
DERC member JP Singh said that after increase in tariff, the private discoms will still have a revenue gap of Rs3,299 crore which he said will be recovered from the consumers in the next five years.
Asked whether he was indicating increasing tariff in the next five years, he did not rule out the possibility but maintained no concrete answer could be given.
He also said the regulator has disallowed claims of Rs4,984 crore by the discoms.
Justifying the hike, he also referred to a recent order of Appellate Tribunal for Electricity which had criticised the DERC for its tariff order for the year 2008-09.
However, he said the DERC does not agree with certain observation in the order and will challenge them in the Supreme Court.
On concerns expressed by RWAs about veracity of audited accounts of the discoms, Singh said the regulator has already recommended to the Delhi Government for conduct of a CAG scrutiny of the audit.
He said DERC has decided to entrust Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to check physical verification of assets of the discoms.
He said in order to protect consumer interests and bring greater transparency, the DERC has decided to involve a leading NGO to check various claims of the discoms.
Singh said DERC will also issue directive to issue bills in both Hindi and English.