Pradeep Pattanayak

The State Energy department on Saturday requested the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) not to increase the retail tariff for the year 2022-23. 

During the hearing of the Aggregate Revenue Requirement (ARR) of Gridco, the department also requested the OERC to take into account the surplus revenue of the distribution companies (discoms) in the State during the current year.

In a series of tweets, the State Energy department informed this. 

“OERC was also requested not to pass any orders that affect the commercial viability of @GridcoOdisha as the State’s long term energy security and development is dependent on the operational viability of GRIDCO,” read one of the tweets. 

In another tweet, the State Energy department informed that it requested the OERC to direct the discoms to bring down the ATC losses faster so that consumers get the benefit of low tariff. It also requested the Commission to do away with the rebate on Intra-state transmission and wheeling charges on RE power that doesn’t benefit industries at large.   

The State Energy department’s request comes in the backdrop of the Gridco placing a demand with the OERC to increase the tariff by 90 paise per unit. The Gridco has demanded so as the four distribution companies- Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU), Wesco, Nesco and Southco are yet to clear their outstanding dues amounting to Rs 7,788 crore. 

The Gridco’s demand to increase the tariff is being seen as a conspiracy to make the loss good by collecting more tariff from consumers. 
While the distribution companies are presently purchasing electricity from the Gridco at Rs 2.96 per unit, a proposal has been placed to increase it to Rs 3.85. 

The Odisha Electricity Consumers’ Association opposed the Gridco’s demand vehemently. “The four distribution companies were handed over to Tata Power with a clean balance sheet. Now the Gridco is making a plan to collect the entire liability amount (Rs7,788 crore) from consumers. So I strongly oppose the Gridco’s application petition,” said president of Odisha Electricity Consumers’ Association Ramesh Satpathy. 

The Gridco is also making a conspiracy to collect its loan amount as well as interest thereof from consumers, he alleged. 

The Gridco has taken loans of around Rs2,000crore from different sources during crisis time. And it has mentioned in its petition that it would collect the interest of the loan amounting to Rs623crore from consumers. In the petition, the Gridco has sought permission from the OERC for the revenue requirement of Rs 10,945crore for the financial year 2022-23. 

Now the question arising is who is responsible for such a whooping amount remaining outstanding. The Chairman of OERC was in-charge of CESU for 20 years and the CMD of Gridco was the in-charge of Wesco, Nesco and Southco for five years. 

“It was an old loan and the then officers had siphoned off the money. Why the consumers will pay for it?,” asked petitioner Ashok Nanda.   

“The government is getting Rs 3,000crore towards cess. Why that amount is not utilised for paying off the loan,” Nanda further asked. 

Despite attempts, no reaction was available from the concerned Minister or Gridco.