BENGALURU: The upcoming elections and the model code of conduct will yet again affect the annual power tariff hike process. For the third time in recent years, the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) will not be able to announce new tariffs for electricity consumers on time because of the elections.
While the public hearing process to allow objections to the proposed hike has been completed, the code of conduct came into effect just as the Commission was preparing to pronounce its order, said officials.Earlier in 2013, the state assembly elections had delayed the tariff order announcement and the election commission had issued a written clarification stating that no announcement could be made about a hike in power tariffs. The next year also, the national elections delayed the public hearing process as the code of conduct was in place and hearings could not be started till polling completed on April 17.
“This year, we completed the public hearings by March 2. But as per the election commission guidelines, the tariff announcement cannot be made and so we decided to hold off till the day polling is completed,” said MK Shankarlinge Gowda, Chairman, KERC. The public hearings began on February 19 and were completed on March 2.
Tariff hikes are a regular process which the KERC is mandated to carry out every year. The new rates for power supply usually come into effect with the first meter reading in the month of May which is for power consumed in the month of April.
This year, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) is asking the regulator for a hike of 82 paise per unit across all sections of consumers. Several objections were filed against BESCOM during the hearing by residents, associations and trade bodies.
Other Electricity Supply Companies (ESCOMS) across the state have also filed individual petitions before the Commission asking for a hike in tariff. With polling to be held in a single phase and concluding on May 12, the tariff order is likely to be announced the next day or before the results are declared.