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JSERC trips power cos

Ranchi, Feb. 10: Jharkhand State Electricity Regulatory Commission (JSERC) has been without a chairman for two months now, and power producers in the state can only wait to get their tariffs reviewed and hiked till the state government is able to appoint someone to the crucial post.

Of the seven power producers, Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB), Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Ltd (TVNL) Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company Ltd (Jusco) and Tata Steel Ltd have already filed their tariff petitions with JSERC, for review and hike in their respective power rates. JSERC insiders revealed that the remaining three — Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Tata Power Company Ltd (TPCL) are in the process of filing their petitions with the commission.

However, with the commission headless since December 16, 2012, and the state government not finding time to fill the post, all work of determining tariffs for retail sale of power, rates for inter-state power trading, rates for sale of all non-conventional energy, including hydel, solar and bio-mass generating plants, regulating grid discipline etc are on hold.

JSERC was rendered headless after Mukhtiyar Singh, retired IAS and former finance commissioner, retired as chairman on December 15, 2012. According to the JSERC Act 2003, the term of chairman has been fixed at five years or 65 years of age whichever is first. Singh was made JSERC chief on July 16, 2008 and he retired last year on turning 65.

Though some efforts to install a new chief to head the regulatory commission was made by the then BJP-led Arjun Munda government, matters remained unresolved following serious differences within the ruling coalition.

At least three chief secretaries — S.K. Choudhury, A.K. Singh and Shiv Basant — were reportedly hot contenders for the JSERC chief post. But, no progress could be made as Munda resigned on January 8. On January 18, President’s Rule was clamped in Jharkhand.

“We have received tariff petitions from JSEB, Jusco, TVNL and TSL. All proposals are now being examined. According to procedures, as soon as a tariff petition is received, it is scrutinised by an expert technical committee. In case clarifications or additional information are needed, they are sought from the individual power producer. The observations of the committee are then put to the JSERC chairman. Once scrutiny is over, steps are taken for holding public hearings to garner opinion of the consumers, trade bodies and other interested groups,” Sajiva Lochan, secretary, JSERC told The Telegraph.