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‘Nil power bill’ lights up AAP’s poll prospects in Delhi

Twesh Mishra New Delhi | Updated on January 29, 2020 Published on January 29, 2020

Representative image   -  Bloomberg

But commercial consumers cry foul over higher fixed charges, penalties

The ‘nil electricity bill’ may be a poll clincher for the Aam Aadmi Party-led government in the Delhi elections with most consumers happy with zero payout for water and electricity, but some have been crying foul because of higher fixed charges, penalties and commercial usage charges.

Power distribution companies (Discoms) are neutral about the muted power bills because they are getting subsidies from the State government, relieving them of the burden of recovering bills from most low-income individual consumers. According to Discom officials, there is no delay in the subsidy disbursal from the State government either. However, they are concerned about power tariffs not being hiked by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC).

However, the question remains. How does the subsidy work? The State government’s proposal for compensating consumers for power cuts did not find the support of the Discoms who eventually got relief from the Delhi High Court.

A study of the tariff orders approved by the DERC show that the Discoms now (during fiscal 2019-2020) charge a higher per unit charge from industrial consumers, mushroom cultivators and non-domestic consumers with over 3 kVA consumption per month, the Delhi airport, and advertisements and hoardings. This is higher than the tariff approved for the financial year 2018-2019.

Higher cross-subsidy

As per the Electricity Tariff Schedule for 2019-2020 to be followed by the Discoms, individual connections with a consumption of over 1,200 units have to pay ₹8 a unit, up from ₹7.75 a unit laid down in the Tariff Schedule for the financial year 2018-2019. A new tariff slab for non-domestic consumers has also been introduced in the new tariff schedule at ₹8.50 a unit. Overall, tariffs have been hiked — leaving out individual connections — reflecting higher cross-subsidy in the new tariff schedule.

Consumers also have to shell out more for getting new connections, conversion from domestic to commercial usage and in the event of disconnection due to non-payments.

The AAP government had been reaping dividends of doling out free water and power in the capital since it assumed office. In August 2019, it went a step ahead and announced free electricity to those consuming either up to 200 units or getting a bill of up to ₹800 a month. For those consuming between 201-400 units, the government announced a discount of up to ₹800 on every domestic connection bill.

Published on January 29, 2020
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