GUWAHATI, June 11 � Power consumers will have to pay an additional amount, in the form of 13 paise per unit, to the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL) with effect from July 1 next.
Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission (AERC) has granted this 13 paise flat hike in tariff against per unit of power used by the consumers to help the APDCL withstand the burden of fuel surcharge. APDCL is a successor company of the public sector Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB).
Announcing this at a press conference here today, AERC chairman Jayanta Bhattacharyya told newspersons that the APDCL had pleaded for a hike of 17.86 paise to meet its fuel surcharge burden for 2008-09 and 2009-10 fiscals. It argued that it needed to meet a burden of Rs 55.39 crore against the fuel surcharges it was made to pay by the power generating companies for the gas-based thermal power and the gas suppliers Oil India Ltd (OIL) and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGCL).
The OIL charges the APDCL Rs 4495.91 for per 1,000 standard cubic metres of gas it supplies to the power distribution company and the ONGCL char-ges the APDCL at the rate of Rs 2166.91 for the per 1,000 standard cubic metres of gas it supplies. With these amounts, the amounts paid in the form of cess, royalty and transportation costs are also added, the AERC chairman said..
However, the AERC had granted the APDCL a total amount of Rs 40.37 crore as fuel price adjustment cost. This hike will remain in force until the amount paid by the APDCL as fuel surcharge is recovered or the next tariff order is issued, whichever is earlier, said Bhattacharyya.
Reasoning, he said that the Electricity Act, 2003 has made it clear that uncontrollable costs be recovered speedily to ensure that future consumers are not burdened with past costs. The uncontrollable costs include fuel cost, including variation of power purchase cost etc, he said.
The State has to purchase 53 per cent of its required power from the Central sector power stations, while its own generation can meet around 33 per cent of its power demand and for the rest 14 per cent power, it has to depend on others, said the AERC chairman.
The gas-based thermal power stations provide around 50 per cent of the State�s required power of 4976 Million Units (MUs) in a year. Of these, NEEPCO�s Assam Gas-based Power Station at Kathalguri supplies around 20 per cent, while the Agartala Gas-based Power Station�s share in it is around 6 per cent. State�s own gas-based thermal power stations at Namrup and Lakwa supply around 11 per cent and around 13 per cent of power respectively.
The State receives around 27 per cent of its required power from the Central sector hydel power stations, while the State receives around 9 per cent of its required power from its own Karbi Langpi hydel power station, said the AERC chairman.
The Central sector thermal power stations and the State�s own thermal power stations have been raising the bills on account of fuel charges to the APDCL. The tariff order issued by the AERC in July, 2009 did not have the provision for such additional fuel adjustment. As a result the APDCL has been facing acute financial hardship on timely payment of dues to their suppliers on account of the energy procured, he said.
Further, in the tariff order issued by the AERC in July, 2009, for the year 2008-09 and 2009-10, the tariff for 2008-09 was kept same with that of the 2007-08 and until July, 2009, it continued to be same for which the APDCL could not realize the additional fuel cost incurred by it for 2008-09, from the consumers.
Earlier, there was no hike in power tariff for 22 months even though the prices of gas were shooting up. This additional burden is currently managed by the distribution company either by taking loan with interest or diverting internal resources which has ultimately affected the fiscal viability of the company, said the AERC chairman.
On the issue of cutting down the size of the amount claimed by the distribution company, he said that it was done by deducting the cost hydel power generation which was included by the distribution company in its petition.
Such increase in fuel and power purchase cost is not new in the country and various regulatory commissions like the West Bengal ERC, Kerala ERC, Gujarat ERC, etc., have been practising this, he said.