CHENNAI: The consumers, who are yet to come out of the shock of the steep hike in the energy charges last year, are in for more jolts, as their monthly bill is likely to fluctuate if the Electricity (Amendment) Rules, 2022, which was notified on December 29, is implemented.
In the Electricity (Amendment) Rules, 2022, introduced by the Union Power Ministry to supersede the previous one, Rule 14 empowers power distribution companies to automatically recover additional power purchase expenses and variations in fuel price from the consumers.
As per the rules, the State commissions should specify a price adjustment formula to recover additional costs incurred due to variations in fuel price or power purchase costs. “These costs will be automatically passed through in consumer tariffs, on a monthly basis, and such monthly automatic adjustments shall be trued up on an annual basis by the appropriate State commissions,” it says.
S Nagalsamy, former member of TNERC, said this would create a huge confusion among consumers. “There will be uncertainty on energy charges, and will add to the burden on consumers,” he said.
Accusing the Centre of framing this rule to push privatisation of power distribution, he said: “The move will help generators and distribution companies to recover their cost immediately. But it will burden the consumers,” he said, adding that the rule would particularly benefit private companies that generate power and own coal mines abroad.
K Kathirmathiyon, secretary of Coimbatore Consumer Cause, said the new rule would allow Tangedco to pass on the burden of its inefficiencies to the consumers. “In Tamil Nadu, we have a bi-monthly billing system. How will the power purchase cost be adjusted on monthly basis,” he wondered.
Considering the practical difficulties, the State should clarify its stand on the issue. “If at all it is implemented, the tariff revision should be done half-yearly instead of monthly basis,” he added.
When asked, Tangedco managing director Rajesh Lakhani said the rule would not be applicable for the utility, as TNERC approved yearly tariff hikes linked to inflation. “Every year, we are going to hike tariff on the basis of inflation as approved by the commission. So that rule will not be applicable to us,” he said.