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‘Imposing solar power obligation is an indirect tariff hike’- Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers Association

According to reports, enforcement of solar power obligation was “equivalent to tariff increase’’ without seeking consumers’ views and should be enforced only after a public hearing, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers’ Association (TECA) has contended.

It has also argued that in the absence of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) asking for any upward revision of power tariff, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) suo motu should not revise the tariff.

In a submission made to the TNERC during a public hearing in Coimbatore on Friday, D. Balasundaram, President, TECA, Coimbatore, pointed out that the State Government had, through a direction to TNERC, mandated a solar power obligation to certain categories of consumers, leading to an increase in the cost of power consumed by them.

He said this was “equivalent to tariff increase without ascertaining the stakeholders’ and consumers’ views’’. He wanted the solar power obligation to be enforced only after a fresh public hearing.

Balasundaram said that Tangedco has also not spelt out the cost-benefits that would accrue to it because of this policy. If it did not expect any impact from the solar policy, it was just that the consumers were also spared from any impact from it and urged that “TNERC must ensure this’’.

He said that Tangedco did not ask for any tariff revision for those categories of consumers who paid the consumption charges and “it is a conscious decision of Tangedco’’. This led one to assume that the organisation was ready to “absorb the entire losses arising out of this decision’’.

He urged the TNERC to accept this and “not grant it (Tangedco) any tariff increase’’ and not provide regulatory asset status for these losses.

He said the HT (high-tension) consumers in the past five years had to bear much of the controls and restrictions.

Though they numbered only around 8,000 and had less than 7 per cent of the connected load, they had been burdened with 40 per cent cut in demand and energy. They were also barred from drawing full power during peak hours and he wanted these consumers be `given some relief’ in tariff revision.

President of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Coimbatore, R.R. Balasundharam, pointed out that while the cost of power purchased from Tangedco’s own thermal power stations was Rs 4.36 per unit, power from Central thermal power stations cost Rs 3.01 per unit.

Tangedco’s power cost was 45 per cent higher than the power sourced from Central generating stations.

He contended that this was because of “total mismanagement’’ by Tangedco which passed on its “inefficiency to all categories of consumers’ by way of higher fuel consumption cost.

J. James, Coimbatore District President of Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Micro Enterprises (TACT), said the micro units were operating from common, rented premises.

The building owners obtained power connection of 25 HP to 100 HP and sub-divided the power connection to the micro units after installing sub-meters. This deprived the micro-units the benefit of lower tariff of Rs 3.50/unit up to 500 units for every two months.

He wanted the TNERC to ensure that the load was sub-divided up to 10 HP each and distributed to micro units.

In certain categories like 3B connection, the micro units, because of various levies had to pay up to Rs 7.50 per unit and wanted the TNERC to cap the rate at Rs 5.50/unit inclusive of all levies.

TNERC members K. Venugopal and S. Nagalsamy and Secretary S. Gunasekaran were present at the hearing.

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