The Telegraph
Monday , March 10 , 2014
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Model code hurdle for power tariff hike

Ranchi, March 9: Jharkhand State Electricity Regulatory Commission (JSERC), the statutory watchdog for power distribution and generation in the state, has written to Election Commission (EC) for clarification on whether tariff revision across all districts now would amount to violation of model code of conduct.

According to JSERC member (engineering) T. Muni Krishniah, the regulatory body has received proposals for tariff revisions from Damodar Valley Corporation, Tata Power, Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company Limited, SAIL-Bokaro Steel and three newly created subsidiaries of Jharkhand Urja Vikas Nigam Limited — Jharkhand Urja Utpadan Nigam Limited, Jharkhand Bijli Vitaran Nigam Limited and Jharkhand Urja Sancharan Nigam Limited.

“Since dates of general elections have been announced, we have sought the commission’s advice on whether we can announce the new tariffs for all the seven power distribution licensees based in Jharkhand during the period the model code of conduct remains in force in the country,” Krishniah told The Telegraph.

He added that a copy of the letter had also been sent to state election commission seeking its concurrence.

The last time power tariffs were revised in the state was in 2012.

All work at JSERC was put on hold since December 15, 2012, when its then chairman Mukhtiyar Singh retired on attaining the age of 65 years, leaving a lone Krishniah to fend for himself.

According to JSERC Act, 2003, at least two members are needed to determine power tariff, examine and review tariff proposals, hear cases, issue licences for distribution and transmission of power, adjudicate upon disputes between licensees and generating companies, promote generation of electricity from renewable sources among other jobs.

Naturally, since December 2012, JSERC was forced to lie idle for the want of numbers.

It was only on January 10, 2014 — after a gap of more than a year — that the state government woke up from its slumber to appoint Sunil Verma, former member (economic and commercial) of Central Electric Authority and retired deputy comptroller and auditor general as JSERC member (finance).

The new finance member helped the regulatory body achieve the required quorum and thereby start examining tariff proposals submitted by seven power producers of Jharkhand and revise the rates.

“We are working full steam ahead to resolve all issues. We have received tariff petitions from all the licensees in the state. The proposals are being examined and public hearings going on simultaneously. Steps have also been taken to hear some 22 cases, which are pending with the commission over the past one year,” Krishniah said.

He, however, added that new rates would be announced only after the EC gave the go-ahead to the regulatory body.

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