By Rajat Roy
The consumers are in for a relief as the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) has not allowed any further hike of tariff for the West Bengal Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) keeping the average rate of electricity for the year 2012-13 at Rs 6.07 per unit. The existing rate of tariff for the year 2011-12 was earlier fixed at Rs 6.05 per unit. The WBERC has given its award today. According to senior officials of WBSEDCL, after 10 years the WBERC has not allowed any hike in its award. The state government has also rationalized its subsidy component today. It has decided to stop giving subsidy to the high voltage consumers. Earlier, the government used to give subsidy to consumers of all categories at the rate of Rs 0.25 per unit, which according to power department sources amounts to Rs 500 crore annually. By withdrawing subsidy to the high voltage consumers, government stands to gain around Rs 200 crore.
The WBSEDCL, which supplies electricity to around 1.20 crore consumers, is confident that though the WBERC did not allow any hike in tariff, the revenue side would remain strong. In 2009-10 the average electricity tariff was Rs 3.94 per unit. In 2010-11 it was hiked to Rs 4.71. Then some consumers moved to court and the court disposed of the case in November, 2011, while the tariff was re-determined at Rs 4.96 per unit. Since then WBERC allowed the WBSEDCL to make the Monthly variable Cost Adjustment (MVCA) keeping in view the fluctuation in coal prices. Accordingly, the WBSEDCL was allowed to include the additional fuel charge from Rs 0.44 to Rs 1.11 per unit. Thus, the average tariff went up from Rs 4.96 to Rs 6.07. The WBERC upheld that and kept the average tariff at that level. Off course, the WBSEDCL has been allowed to recover the arrear, but that could be done in a phased manner. The arrear will be realized in the next 48 months. The WBSEDCL, in its petition for 2012-13 argued before WBERC in favor of a higher rate of tariff. Though the WBSEDCL did not quantify the proposed tariff, but they indicated in their petition before WBERC that after considering the Annual Performance Review (APR) of 2009-10 and 2010-11, and the high cost of power from WBPDCL, the proposed tariff should have to be around Rs 7.50 per unit. However, they are not unduly perturbed with the present award and indicated that the petition for2013-14 will be submitted soon before the WBERC.