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Power tariff hike: AERC holds public hearing

By The Assam Tribune

GUWAHATI, May 13 � A public hearing was held by the Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission (AERC) today against the petition submitted by the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) for enhancement of tariff by 17.86 paise per unit towards additional fuel price and power purchase adjustment (FPPPA) for the financial year 2008-09, stated a press release.

A public notice incorporating the salient features of the petition and inviting comments and objections from different stakeholders regarding the proposed enhancement was published in the leading daily newspapers of the state. The Commission received objection petitions from the All Assam Small Scale Industries Association (AASSIA), the North Eastern Small Scale Industries Association (NESSIA), The Assam Branch of India Tea Association (ABITA), the Consumer Legal Protection Forum (CLPF) and JN Khataniar.

The objection petitions were forwarded by the Commission to APDCL for their clarifications and comments and the matter was fixed for hearing today at the Assam Administrative Staff College at Khanapara. The managing directors and officers of all the successor companies of ASEB namely APGCL, AEGCL & APDCL; chairman, ASEB; and all the respondents attended the hearing. The hearing was conducted by the chairperson, AERC.

The objectors strongly protested any hike in electricity tariff under different grounds. ABITA questioned the applicability of the claim made in the petition with respect to fuel and power purchase cost. CLPF expressed great concern on the proposed hike given the fact that many government/ semi-government departments are still not properly metered which is causing huge revenue loss to the power company.

They contended that the power company should try and stop misuse of power in government departments, reduce transmission & distribution loss, take steps to install digital meters and start computerised billing in all government departments instead of making the general consumers pay for losses incurred due to the above reasons.

NESSIA opposed the hike stating the dismal performance of the distribution company in providing quality, uninterrupted power to its consumers. They argued that the company should reduce its distribution losses to balance any revenue loss. AASSIA opposed the proposed enhancement on the ground that the distribution company has failed in providing good quality, uninterrupted quality power in most areas of the State. It stated that the distribution company has no moral right to impose extra burden on its consumers when the company failed to return to its consumers the interests on their security deposits as directed by the AERC.

JN Khataniar questioned the merit of imposing additional burden on the consumers by a company with high distribution losses.

AK Sachan, chairman, ASEB and Managing Director, APDCL explained the present power situation in the State and stated that the present financial crunch that the company is facing is on account of higher cost of power purchased from the Central Sector Generating Stations and increased fuel price for generation by the State generating stations at Namrup and Lakwa.

The chairperson, AERC assured everyone present that the Commission would take a decision only after prudent checking of all the documents submitted by the APDCL and appropriately considering all the views of the objectors.

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