BHUBANESWAR: Reliance Infrastructure Limited (RIL), the managing investor and major shareholder in the erstwhile distribution companies - NESCO, SOUTHCO and WESCO has urged the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) to set aside the October 10, 2021 order of Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) directing it to pay arrears amounting to Rs 4,234 crore to the State-owned bulk power trading utility GRIDCO.
Challenging the legality, validity and propriety of the OERC order, RIL said that the Commission lacked the inherent jurisdiction to issue directions against the appellant which is neither a 'licensee' nor a 'generating company' within the ambit of section 86(1)(f) of the Electricity Act, 2003.
Submitting that the impugned order passed by OERC is highly contradictory and fails to set out any reasons for its findings, the petitioner said, "GRIDCO through various letters had informed the RIL managed discoms that Rs 680.11 crore, Rs 742.36 crore and Rs 823.36 crore were outstanding with NESCO, SOUTHCO and WESCO respectively as on March 31, 2020."
However, the State-run utility had appealed OERC for settlement of outstanding dues of Rs 1,443.75 crore, Rs 1,001.04 crore and Rs 1,789.28 crore respectively from the three discoms. "This clearly establishes that the amount claimed is arbitrary and without any proof. The BSP dues outstanding as on March 4, 2015 has already been transferred to the accounts of the respective discoms along with other creditors (current liabilities) as well as the amount receivable from consumers and all other receivables (current assets)," the RIL petition said.
Claiming that OERC has failed to apply its mind independently to the claim of GRIDCO, RIL submitted that the alleged claims were barred by limitation.
The petition filed by GRIDCO before OERC on October 28, 2019 in respect of amount allegedly due as on March 4, 2015 but the Commission ignoring the law of limitation has arbitrarily held that there was a continuing cause of action and the claim of GRIDCO is not hit by limitation, the company said.
Claiming that a huge amount of regulatory assets (approximately Rs 4,500 crore) have been created while refusing to allow legitimate increase in tariff in its annual tariff orders, the petitioner said it could have recovered the amount and paid GRIDCO the dues on time had OERC implemented the orders of APTEL.
While admitting that 51 per cent of the shares are held by the appellant, the petitioner said OERC lacked jurisdiction to entertain a dispute concerning RIL when the three discoms were independent corporate entities and were to act in terms of the license conditions granted by OERC.