This is one consumer-friendly move from the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) that is intended to prevent trading of nasty words afterwards. For the first time in its nearly six-decade-long existence, the KSEB is holding formal consultations with the consumers ahead of submitting the annual budget proposals to the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC).
“The proposals on Aggregate Revenue Requirement and Expected Revenue from Charges (ARR&ERC) for the 2014-15 financial year is expected to be submitted to the commission by October-end or the first week of November,” KSEB sources said. The KSEB officials had already met representatives of the hospitality industry, the high tension (HT) consumers, the extra high tension (EHT) consumers and the healthcare sector.
“By talking things over, the KSEB hopes to address the concerns of various consumer groups on contentious issues such as tariff revision,” KSEB officials said. “We really think it will be better for both us and the consumers if certain issues can be sorted out beforehand,” KSEB chairman M Sivasankar said. “The consultations are being held without affecting the secretive nature of the proposals,” he said.
As of March 2013, the KSEB caters to 1.06 crore consumers. Additionally, through such discussions, the KSEB hopes to pre-empt the backlash that usually follows the tabling of ARR&ERC proposals. In recent years, the power utility had also been attaching the tariff revision proposals to the ARR&ERC petition. The term of the present electricity tariffs expire on March 31, 2014. The Commission holds public hearings on both sets of proposals before finalising decisions.
During the hearings, influential consumer groups - such as the industrial consumers - bitterly contest the KSEB claims. Moreover, rising employee costs (the KSEB has approximately 33,000 employees), power purchase costs and repair and maintenance (R&M) expenses also have emerged touchy issues with consumers in recent years.