Tem­pers rise on the back of surg­ing bills

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Shashank Rao [email protected]­dia.net

It’s win­ter, and the tem­per­a­ture as well as the pub­lic tem­per seem to be high be­cause elec­tric­ity bills are burn­ing a hole in the Mum­baikar’s pocket.

The prob­lem has mainly been re­ported from the west­ern and east­ern sub­urbs where power is sup­plied by Adani Elec­tric­ity Mumbai Lim­ited (AEML) and Tata Power (TPC). The is­sue is big­ger for AEML, which has a larger con­sumer base.

Many fam­i­lies claim that ear­lier, de­spite their ap­pli­ances be­ing used to the utmost, their elec­tric­ity bill wouldn’t cross Rs 2,000 a month even dur­ing sum­mer.

The Kha­tri fam­ily from Bori­vali say their bills for the last two months have dou­bled. For the months of Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, they re­ceived bills from AEML to­tal­ing over Rs 9,000.

Ru­pal Kha­tri said, “When I made com­plaints, I was told by the cus­tomer care cen­tre that our volt­age con­sump­tion might have ex­ceeded due to an old re­frig­er­a­tor or AC or some­thing. Then they said that light might have been used ex­ces­sively in Oc­to­ber, or we might be hav­ing a de­funct elec­tric meter.”

“Since the takeover by AEML, bills are higher. So I switched,” said Kha­tri. Since the new tar­iff from Septem­ber 1, the av­er­age hike is mere 0.24 per cent.

AEML of­fi­cials claim that peo­ple slipped into higher tar­iff slabs with in­crease in power con­sump­tion. This means that un­til one is con­sum­ing up to 300 units, they pay at a rate of Rs 7.65 per unit in case of AEML, and Rs 7.51 to TPC. But in­crease in even a unit leads to the pe­runit cost ris­ing to Rs 9.29 for AEML and Rs 11.49 for TPC.

“In last week of Au­gust, the staff that reads me­ters went on a five-day strike. So we were forced to take av­er­age billing for three months. Plus, the new tar­iff sched­ule came in place. The hike in place is as per the or­ders of MERC,” said an AEML of­fi­cial. “We ex­pect the sit­u­a­tion to nor­malise in Jan­uary billing cy­cle.”

The AEML man­age­ment also blames its con­sumer mix as over 16 lakh of the to­tal 29 lakh con­sumers are in the 0-300 units bracket. These are the ones who are charged less than the cost of sup­ply. Sources claim over 75 per cent of AEML are res­i­den­tial con­sumers who are fac­ing the brunt of tar­iff hike.

Chang­ing over Sources said that close to 4 lakh con­sumers have gone to TPC from AEML over sev­eral months. In the last two month since new tar­iff came in, close to 3,000 con­sumers have mi­grated to TPC. But power ex­perts claim that con­sumers could pay more af­ter mi­grat­ing to TPC as changeover tar­iff is higher on some slabs.

Till one’s con­sump­tion is un­der 300 units, changeover to TPC will be ben­e­fi­cial. Be­yond that, the dif­fer­ence is higher for TPC by Rs 1.24 per unit for those con­sum­ing 301500 units and Rs 2.01 per unit if over 500 units is con­sumed.

“I mi­grated to TPC but found that changeover cost is higher with rise in slabs of units con­sumed. More­over we are pay­ing ad­di­tional charges to­wards sur­charges paid to AEML. The gov­ern­ment should with­draw du­ties levied on bills,” said S Ohri, res­i­dent of Kan­di­vali. In Novem­ber, Ohri paid a bill of over Rs 6,100 to TPC af­ter he con­sumed above 550 units.

On De­cem­ber 4, MERC sent a no­tice to AEML ask­ing for an ex­pla­na­tion over the hue and cry by the pub­lic.

AEML of­fi­cial

Mumbai is the only city where four dif­fer­ent dis­trib­u­tors sup­ply elec­tric­ity: Tata Power, Adani Elec­tric­ity (which took over from Reliance In­fra­struc­ture), Bri­han­mum­bai Elec­tric Sup­ply and Trans­port (BEST) and Ma­ha­rash­tra State Elec­tric­ity Dis­tri­bu­tion Com­pany (Ma­hav­i­taran)

Peo­ple have the op­tion of chang­ing their sup­plier un­der open ac­cess, but state-run MSEDCL, which sup­plies to nearly a lakh con­sumers, is out of open ac­cess, as it cross-sub­sidises farm­ers

Tata sup­plies to high-end con­sumers, big hous­ing so­ci­eties and com­mer­cial com­plexes. Most of their con­sumers have chnaged over from Adani. TPC gen­er­ates some 1,400MW at its Trom­bay plant, rest from its hy­dro power plants, other sup­pli­ers

BEST and Tata Power share the is­land city —with ma­jor­ity sup­plied by BEST, which has dropped its tar­iff by 10 per cent. Their con­sumer mix is such that nearly 4 lakh are those con­sum­ing less than 300 units per month. BEST has a power pur­chase agree­ment (PPA) with Tata of 752 MW, more is pur­chased from na­tional grid

Sub­urbs are mostly sup­plied by Adani Elec­tric­ity. Of to­tal, around 10L fall in 300 units a month bracket. Adani re­quires a to­tal 1,892 MW, of which 500 MW is sourced from its power plant sit­u­ated at Dahanu and the rest is pro­cured through PPAS

Is­land (elec­tri)city: Be­sides, Mumbai has is­land­ing sys­tem which is in place since 1997. Is­land­ing means any­time that the Ma­ha­rash­tra sys­tem gets dis­turbed, the state load despatch cen­tre (SLDC) dis­con­nects Ma­ha­rash­tra from the Mumbai sys­tem and runs it as an is­land, shield­ing it from any problems. The sys­tem has been suc­cess­ful on 16 oc­ca­sions, when Mum­baikars were un­aware of dis­tur­bances ex­pe­ri­enced in the rest of the state

—REP­RE­SEN­TA­TIONAL PIC

Peo­ple hold up bills dur­ing a protest rally ear­lier

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