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Mumbai paying Rs 350 cr more a year for power

According to reports, over 1.6 crore residential power consumers in the state, including 25 lakh in the Mumbai region, are paying about Rs 350 crore more annually for power they use. The Maharashtra Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDL) has blamed this on unrealistic benefits granted to captive power plants (CPP) and renewable energy (RE) generators in the state.

The state power supplier warned that continuing with the facility extended to CPPs to stock power with MSEDL and draw it anytime, and concessions in cross-subsidy surcharge (CSS) awarded to RE generators, may lead to heavy tariffs for residential consumers.

In any power utility, high-end consumers pay more than the average cost of supply so that the tariff of low-end consumers is reduced as part of their social obligation, which is termed CSS. MSEDCL plans to challenge, in the appellate authority, the-se benefits, which are allegedly backed by the state’s power regulator.

“A facility to bank additional power was given in 2004-05 due to an acute shortage. This was not as per the Electricity Act 2003 and had no mention in Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) regulations,” an MSEDCL official said.

“If any consumer banks 300 MW (7.2 million units) in the state grid for 24 hours and withdraws it later, there will be a revenue loss of Rs 72 lakh (calculated at Re 1 per unit). There will also be a danger of grid failure. This is costing two-three paise per unit to common consumers but may escalate to Re 1 per unit if continued,” MSEDCL officials said. Forty-three CPPs could avail of this benefit.

“Similarly, many RE generators, mainly wind-power generators, producing around 400 MW, can buy power from outside. They have been granted concessions in CSS. The CSS for 33 KV HT consumers is Rs 1.18 per unit, but if the CSS benefit is granted, it is Rs 0.295 per unit. Thus, the loss per unit is 89 paise per unit. Considering 400 MW wind-power, the loss to MSEDCL could be Rs 62 crore a year. Considering the growing trend among RE generators, such a loss of cross-subsidy will lead to a tariff shock for low-end consumers,” MSEDCL officials said.

Power consumers in the island city opposing BEST’s policy of recovering losses in its transport operations through electricity bills were in for a shock on Thursday. Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) chairman V P Raja dismissed two review petitions filed by consumer activists against the commission’s order allowing BEST to recover its losses from power consumers. “A hotel group filed an appeal in the appellate tribunal for electricity (APTEL), the hearing of which is scheduled soon. Such petitions cannot be taken up and will be dismissed till APTEL takes a decision,” Raja said. Kamlakar Shenoy, Balkrishna Shetty and some others had appealed to MERC on the consumers’ behalf.

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