The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Query salvo in power subsidy

Calcutta, Nov. 27: The Bengal government has put the issue of subsidy on power in the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission’s court.

The regulatory commission had asked the state government to decide by November 27 whether it will compensate CESC for subsidising domestic consumers. The power ministry had then written to the commission, seeking some clarifications. “Once WBERC clarifies these points, the state government will take a decision on how to proceed on the subsidy issue,” power department sources said.

The ministry has asked the regulatory commission whether it will abolish the slab system in the present tariff structure. At present, people consuming up to 25 units of electricity have to pay Rs 1.72 per unit, while those consuming 26-60 units, the charge is Rs 2.42 per unit, they pointed out.

The power department has asked whether all consumers would have to pay at the rate of rs 3.81 per unit for 2000-01 and Rs 3.90 per unit for 2001-02.

The power ministry has also asked whether the present two-tariff structure, under which consumers have to pay a maximum demand charge (for availing power during the peak period) and a user charge for availing electricity (which will vary on the basis of power consumed), will be abolished.

Power department sources said these issues are not restricted to CESC alone. The guidelines worked out for CESC will also have an impact on other utilities, they said.

The regulatory commission has paved the way for dismantling cross-subsidisation in tariffs by indicating that CESC’s charges will be directly linked to the utility’s average cost of supply. The commission’s decision is based on its interpretation of the Supreme Court verdict on the issue in the backdrop of the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act, 1998.

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