GUWAHATI, Aug 1 � The State Government is paying the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) and its successor companies, in phases, the amount of Rs 400 crore that they have lost during the past eight months due to rise in the prices of natural gas. But Government subsidy can�t be a solution to the crisis faced by the ASEB and its successor companies, said Power Minister Pradyut Bardoloi while talking to The Assam Tribune today.
The Power Minister said that the ASEB and its successor companies have been asked to improve their performance and to reduce losses. They have been asked to improve their performance, particularly in the areas of generation and distribution.
Of course, he said, the Board and its successor companies have been trying hard to reduce their losses and so far they have been able to reduce their losses from around 50 per cent in the pre-reforms period to less than 30 per cent, the Minister said.
The price of gas has shot up three times and thus cost of power generation has also shot up as many times. The Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission (AERC) has, therefore, approved an overall hike of 69 paise in the power tariff as per the Fuel and Power Purchase Price Adjustment (FPPPA) Formula.
Hike in the prices of natural gas has triggered the rise in power tariff in many parts of the country, which mostly depend on the gas-based thermal power. Tripura has hiked power tariff by at least by Re 1 in the face of the tough situation resulting from the hike in the natural gas price, the Minister said.
It needs mention here that to meet the situation resulting from the enhanced price of natural gas, ASEB�s successor company � the Assam Power Distribution Company (APDCL) � has decided to raise power tariff by 56 paise with effect from August 1. It had earlier raised power tariff by 13 paise for the same reason. State�s 48 per cent power demand is met by the gas-based thermal power stations.
According to Subhash Chandra Das, the APDCL Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), the rise in natural gas price has led to rise in the unit price of energy of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) thermal power stations by Rs 2 to
Rs 2.78. The unit price of the Assam Generation Company Limited, an ASEB successor company, has shot up by Rs 1.27 to Rs 2.58 due to this factor, the APDCL CMD said while addressing mediapersons on the issue here recently.
The generating companies have been realizing their power bills at revised rates from the APDCL with effect from July 2010, said the APDCL CMD.
When contacted, the ASEB sources said that if the proposed assistance as mentioned by the Minister is given as capital subsidy, it will not be able to address the problem created by hike in fuel and power purchase price.
If the Government wants to deal with the issue of hike in power price due to fuel and power prices adjustment, it should release revenue subsidy to the APDCL, said the sources.