Citizens Say No to Power Tariff Hike; BESCOM Calls it Necessary
Opposing the proposed electricity tariff hike of 66 paise per unit, several associations and citizens on Monday attended a public meeting with power officials and requested the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) not to approve the hike.
KERC proposes the annual hike after electricity supply companies (ESCOMs) submit reports of their spending and estimated revenue shortage, along with a tariff petition.
In the previous fiscal, KERC suggested a hike of 60 paise but finally agreed to a 23-paise raise. In 2012-13, the proposed hike was 73 paise, but the actual increase later was 13 paise.
While making a presentation on the proposal, BESCOM Managing Director Pankaj Kumar Pandey said the revenue deficit for 2014-15 has been estimated at `1,300 crore. In 2013-14, it was `1,078 crore.
He said the hike has been necessitated by an increase in short-term power purchases, which account for around 27 per cent of BESCOM’s power supply. Short-term purchases usually cost more than long-term ones.
“We lost out on 2,804.6 million units of thermal power from the Karnataka Power Corporation as it couldn’t be supplied in spite of being approved,” Pandey said. Around 7,637 million units were purchased from short-term markets in 2013-14.
He also said there has been an increase in power purchase cost because of coal shortage.
‘Regularise Power Supply’
A Padmanabha, who represented the Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA), opposed the hike saying, “If power authorities would collect pending arrears from government agencies, they wouldn’t need to pass on the burden to the consumers.”
He said load-shedding is frequent across the state and affects industries. “This (hike) petition should be rejected till the power supply is regularised,” he said.
B L Lakshmikant, a citizen, said ESCOMs should consider buying cheap hydel power from the north as the link between the two grids has been completed. He in rural areas, there are regular blackouts, which badly affects farming.
“They give us three-phase power supply in the night. Can a farmer work at midnight everyday?” he asked.
MLC Ashwatnarayan echoed this and said he was ready to pay more only if continuous power is supplied. “In Nelamangala, there is no power to draw water to wash cows. They supply power in the night but what is the use then?”