• Power utility charging excess, say consumers

    The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) is demanding excess ‘wheeling’ charges from subsidised customers – farmers and powerloom owners – and the government should stop this, demanded the Maharashtra Veej Grahak Sanghatana, a power consumers body.

    The MSEDCL, however, claimed that they have been following the directives.

    (Wheeling charges are charged to transfer electrical power through transmission and distribution lines from one utility’s service area to another’s.)

    The MSEDCL has been asked by the state electricity regulatory authority to unbundle the charges it collects from consumers – wheeling charges and energy charges – and has allowed the company to charge Rs 1.18 per unit as wheeling charges.

    “But the company has added the wheeling charge of Rs 1.18 per unit to the existing government subsidised tariff that has led to sharp increase in the rates,” said Pratap Hogade of the Maharashtra Veej Grahak Sanghatana.

    The company has failed to break up the government subsidy given to agriculture connections and to powerlooms.

    “For instance, the subsidised energy charge to farmers is Rs 0.55 per unit (though the MSEDCL tariff stands at Rs 2.58 per unit). To this charge, wheeling charge of Rs 1.18 per unit is added, making the tariff Rs 1.73 per unit despite the actual tariff decreasing by Rs 0.82 per unit. The actual rise in the tariff should be by Rs 0.36 per unit – totalling to Rs 0.91 per unit for the farmers using power up to 3 horsepower motors,” Hogade said.

    This is the condition with all other tariffs, where the government is subsidising the charges. “The government has promised subsidy as per earlier tariff, but after the MERC orders of unbundling the same, the new tariff is found to be lower than earlier tariff, excluding the wheeling charges. The consumers are at disadvantage as they are unable to get the benefit of the lower tariff and on the other hand wheeling charges have been directly added to the tariff. Imagine a farmer being charged Rs 0.55 per unit will not have to pay Rs 1.73 per unit, when actual charges come to Rs 0.91 per unit,” said Siddharth Soni, former consumer representative.

    The Maharashtra Veej Sanghatana has therefore demanded that the MERC and the state government step in and set things right.

    The MSEDCL officials, however, said that the wheeling charges have been levied only as per the MERC directions. “The MSEDCL has no right to charge as per its whims. We cannot charge anything as we are answerable to the MERC as well as the government. As far as government subsidy and other matters are concerned, we have not increased the charges to these subsidised consumers, but added the wheeling charges as per the directives,” a senior official from MSEDCL said. Jatavis Brown Womens Jersey

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