Mangalore, Sep 20, 2011 : The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) held a public hearing on Monday regarding Mescom’s proposal to hike power tariff by Rs. 0.88 per unit.
The Mescom has applied to raise tariffs for all types of consumers excluding the beneficiaries of Bhagyajyothi and Kuteerajyothi and those with 10 HP irrigation pump sets. A number of consumers and members of various organizations opposed revisions of power tariffs and urged the KERC to scrutinize the subsidies payable to the Mescom by the state government. The KERC was also urged to include service industries under the LT5 category and increase the rebate on solar equipment to Rs. 100.
Raja Ram Shetty, the member of the Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association, said that Mescom’s services have not improved and that it has not implemented the directives issued by the KREC since 2001, owing to which it cannot demand a rise in tariff. He complained that industries are running into losses because of frequent load shedding by Mescom. Further, he said that hydel power from KPTCL is hardly sufficient in spite of the large number of dams in the state. He also pointed out that the Escoms are demanding uniform rates although there are huge differences in distribution costs among them.
Complaining that no elected representatives are participating in the hearing, Sathyanarayana Udupi of Bharathiya Kissan Sangha Udupi wanted to know why Mescom is not taking action against unauthorized IP sets. He also demanded to know why the Mescom paid for unused power—the power that it purchased for Rs. 245.77 crore for its consumers, but which was never used by the consumers. He said that the Mescom has sought a tariff revision for 2011 – 12 because it purchased 525.77 million units of power for its consumers, but the consumers never received this power, owing to which the Mescom cannot demand hike in tariff.
Damodar Aithal, the convener of the Udupi Consumer Forum, urged the KERC to hold a public hearing in Udupi from the following year. He also urged the Mescom not to seek tariff hikes, but provide quality service for the next three years.
Advocate Ashok Kumar, representing the Ice Plant Owners’ association, said that the Mescom is giving no subsidy to ice plants in spite of the KREC’s directives. In response, the MD of Mescom said that he will meet the association on Tuesday to resolve the issue.
Voicing the woes of coffee planters, Anil Savur, the secretary of the Karnataka Planters Association, said that IP sets are used for at least six weeks per year in coffee plantations, owing to which the KREC should consider it as a seasonal industry. Since the coffee growers are running into loss because of fall in price of crops and various coffee plant diseases, he said that the tariff hike will overburden them. He urged the commission to issue a directive to Mescom to provide 3-phase power for six hours at day and 1-phase power during the night.
Many consumers felt that differential tariff is essential because each Escom has different financial conditions.
Speaking on the occasion, Shrinivasmurthy, the chairman of KREC, said that the commission has received 4,602 objections from Mescom consumers, the largest number to be received by any Escom. He assured those at the hearing that the KERC will be fair and will take a decision after a public hearing of two more Escoms. Recommendations might be submitted by the middle of October, he added