While people are busy arranging for a weekend, a complete weekend, and a joyous atmosphere for high-decibel celebrations, many are unaware that a power price hike is lurking in the shadows. The higher tariff rates will go into effect at the start of the new fiscal year, putting an end to the speculation regarding the raise.
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) was scheduled to issue an order on Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL’s) multi-year rate petition by the end of March.
However, the order was not released by the MERC on its official website until late evening on the last day of the fiscal year 2022-23, thus the guessing game continued. While the general public may be unconcerned, many in industrial and commercial circles are keeping a watch on Hawking’s MSEDCL petition since the spike may necessitate restructuring of their own expenses.
Finally, the burden will fall on consumers, and only the full impact of the raise will be felt. Local leaders and consumer advocates believe the raise will undoubtedly occur.
Even if the order is issued in the first week of April, it will take effect on April 1. Previously, the MSEDCL order was delivered in May of each year, but the new rate became effective on April 1.
MSEDCL had requested a truing up of its accounts to the tune of Rs 67,644 crore in order to stay afloat. If the current trend continues, they estimate a 37 percent increase. However, MSEDCL downplayed the increase, claiming that in real terms, it would amount to only Rs 2.55 per unit.
In its petition, the state-run distribution company sought a steep increase in rates to reflect the actual charges for power supplied to consumers; consumer activists claimed that if the petition was accepted in its entirety, power tariffs could rise by 25 to 30 percent.
However, given the electoral compulsion as polls approach, the current rules may not want to antagonise the voters, and thus the power increase may be limited to 10 to 15% at most.
The actual fluctuation in power bills will be known only after the MERC issues its order on the MSEDCL’s MYT petition.
Consumer activists are already concerned that if MSEDCL claims are accepted at face value, Mahrashtra’s power tariffs will surpass those of neighbouring states. A comparison of MSEDCL’s power tariff with that of their counterparts in neighbouring states reveals a nearly 30% difference, implying that any further increase will have a significant impact on Maharashtra’s industrial development.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on MERC, specifically on its stance on the issue of commutation of power consumption of agricultural pumps, which has become a source of contention.
Any discrepancy between MSEDCL’s perception and MERC’s actual figures would have an impact on the overall tariff. The MSEDCL tariff is currently the highest in the country, with base rates ranging from Rs 5.36/unit to Rs 15.56/unit, while the lowest in base rate is Andhra Pradesh, where it is just Rs 1.9/unit, and the lowest in top slab is Gujarat, where it is just Rs 5.2/unit.