Odisha government to buy power; tariff hike feared

Bhubaneswar: Amidst severe electricity shortage, Grid Corporation of Odisha (Gridco) has finally kick-started the process of purchasing power from private companies. Gridco has approached the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) to source power from 24 companies which are generating power. However, with private companies demanding higher prices than what is stipulated by OERC has raised concerns over the financial burden for the consumers.

JSPL, Navbharat, Bhushan Steel and Aditya Alumina are the leading private sector companies from whom Gridco is planning to procure power to address shortage. According to sources, Gridco is planning to purchase power from these companies at Rs 2.75 per unit. However, the private companies are not satisfied with the price and are only willing to sell power at Rs 3.20 per unit or more.

Gridco director P.K. Pradhan said “We have filed a petition with the OERC to purchase power from private companies. Though the OERC has stipulated a price of Rs 2.75, the companies are asking for Rs 3.20 per unit.”

If Gridco is able to procure power at Rs 2.75 per unit then the total financial burden will be to the tune of Rs 300 crore. On the other hand, the financial burden will be more than Rs 400 crore if the government purchases power at the rate demanded by the private companies.

According to sources, such additional burden will eventually be passed on to the consumer through tariff hike.
“If there is an additional expenditure for Gridco that what has been approved, then it will claim it through tariff revision next year,” informed former OERC member KC Badu.

On the other hand, Opposition parties are continuing to vent their resentment over the State government’s failure in ensuring uninterrupted power supply. The Congress has given a call for ‘Bijuli Satyagrah’ after Dussehra festival.
No matter what it does and how it does, the government has to provide electricity to consumers, said Odisha Congress’ chief spokesperson Ganeswar Behera.

“Given the mismanagement and losses in power distribution, it is likely that the State government will increase power tariff putting additional burden on the consumers”, said State BJP vice-president Prithviraj Harichandan.

Meanwhile, ruling party’s spokesperson Amar Satpathy said the State government is aware of the power situation and is planning to purchase power only to safeguard the interests of the consumers.