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Bengal spared city’s power tariff shock

Calcutta, June 9: Domestic consumers in areas fed by the state electricity board will have to bear an average hike of 2 paise per unit — at least 29 paise less than those in CESC areas.

The new WBSEB rates, to be effective from April 1, 2004, also spell relief for industrial consumers in electricity board areas. Their tariffs have gone down or have remained the same.

In board areas, domestic rates on an average will go up from Rs 3.18 per unit to Rs 3.20.

The average tariff in CESC areas is Rs 4.03 per unit. For CESC consumers who draw 150-299 units, the hike will be as much as 57.4 paise per unit.

For the board’s domestic consumers in urban areas, who use up to 900 units, the rates have remained unchanged or have been brought down 2 to 3 paise. For those who consume 300-450 units, the tariff has come down from Rs 3.22 to Rs 3.20 per unit. For consumers who draw between 451 and 900 units, the tariff is down from Rs 3.42 per unit to Rs 3.39.

Those who consume 900-1500 units would have to bear a nominal hike of 3 paise per unit — from Rs 5.49 per unit to Rs 5.52 per unit. However, those who consume more than 1,500 units would have to pay Rs 4.29 per unit instead of Rs 4.32.

Similarly, tariff for rural domestic consumers has not undergone any major change. It has either remained same or has gone up by 2 to 3 paise.

Explaining the steep hike in its areas, CESC managing director Sumantra Banerjee said: “We have to purchase power from the WBSEB at a rate as high as Rs 3.12 per unit though the WBSEB buys power from the West Bengal Power Development Corporation at Rs 1.80 per unit. Moreover, the interest cost of WBSEB is low as it gets government loan at subsidised rates. Our interest cost is higher. Though our own generation cost is Rs 1.20 to 1.30 per unit, we have to include all the above while calculating tariff.”

Lower tariff for domestic consumers in the state electricity board areas have not meant extra pressure on industrial and commercial consumers.

Tariff for industrial consumers has gone down 7 paise on an average. For commercial consumers, like shops, tariffs have either remained unchanged or have gone down.

CESC’s rates for industrial and commercial consumers will remain much higher than the state electricity board’s.

“With lower tariffs we have achieved an operating profit of Rs 38 crore. We are trying to improve our operations so that we can keep our rates lower in our tariff petitions to West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission in the future,” said a senior electricity board official.

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