The state electricity regulator has decided to waive fixed charges for all categories of consumers, including industrial units, for three months from April in view of the nationwide lockdown that plunged households and businesses into financial turmoil.
The order issued on Monday by Jharkhand State Electricity Regulatory Commission (JSERC) also provides a three-month moratorium on payments pertaining to April, May and June till September-end, and directs power distribution companies not to impose any delayed payment surcharges (DPS).
“The lockdown has adversely impacted the public and some respite is the need of the hour. The commission, after careful consideration of the situation, has decided to provide relaxations," the order, signed jointly by JSERC member R.N. Singh (engineering) and P.K. Singh (legal), noted.
On pending payment of bills between April 1 to June 30, JSERC has ordered a moratorium till September 30, directing power companies to not charge late fees. "If any discom has already received payment with DPS or fixed charges from consumers for the waiver period, it should be adjusted in the next bills of subsequent months," the order read.
JSERC had invited comments and feedback from all stakeholders following requests from various quarters. While all trade bodies have, time and again, demanded waivers during the lockdown period, a delegation of Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FJCCI) also met state electricity department officials with an appeal for concessions.
Power companies on the other hand pleaded that any moratorium on bills would increase their financial burden.
FJCCI president Kunal Ajmani welcomed the regulator’s move. “The industrial downturn coupled with lockdown has completely put business entities on the brink. Medium and small-scale enterprises are worst hit with many unable to even manage their recurring monthly expenses. In that respect, the JSERC order will give some respite,” he said.
Domestic consumers also welcomed the regulator’s order. Subodh Kashyap, a Morabadi resident, said he had already paid his bills for three months in August. “But I hope that in the next bill, I will have to bear less burden as additional money paid will be adjusted,” he said.