For the sixth year, no power rate hike for Delhi

Delhi has yet again been spared an increase in electricity rates by the regulator, sixth year in a row. The new tariff schedule will be applicable from 1 September.

The tariff levels for the year to March will remain unchanged primarily because the regulator didn’t consider any revenue increase for the distribution firms—BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd (BRPL), BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL), Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL), and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

While the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) increased the pension trust surcharge from the 3.80% to 5% for the erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board employees, it waived off the 20% surcharge under time of day (ToD) tariff for September 2020 to provide relief to consumers.

This was for the first time that the DERC didn’t conduct a public hearing for deciding the tariff rates in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. The process has assumed political overtones with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which came to power in Delhi, making lower electricity bills one of its electoral promises.

“However, due to outbreak of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) which has been declared as a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO) (GoNCTD’s Notification No.F.51/DGHS/PH- IV/COVID19/2020/prsecyhfw/2393-2407 dated 13/03/2020), the Public Hearing which was scheduled on 18/03/2020 was cancelled," the DERC said in a press statement.

At the moment, electricity rates as approved by DERC for domestic consumers start at ₹ 3 per unit for consumption of up to 200 units, going up to Rs4.50 per unit for 200-400 units, Rs6.50 per unit for 400-800 units, Rs7 per unit for 800-1200 units, and Rs8 per unit for consumption beyond 1200 units.

Electricity has significant political ramifications, a fact established by the AAP’moves. Providing free power up to 200 units every month for households, a 50% subsidy on monthly power consumption of up to 400 units announced in 2015, and capping electricity tariff paid handsome dividends for AAP in the Delhi elections.

“The Commission has waived off existing provision of 20% Surcharge under ToD Tariff for September 2020 in order to facilitate Non-Domestic, Industrial, Public Utilities and Domestic Consumers (optional) etc. in this COVID-19 situation," the statement added.

While India's electricity demand is recovering amid gradual lifting of the lockdown, it is yet to reach the pre-pandemic days. Delhi’s electricity demand touched an all-time high of 7,409 MW in July last year.

“In order to promote pollution free transportation and clean environment, the Commission has decided to continue with the subsidized tariff rates for E-Rickshaw/E-Vehicle category," the statement said.

This comes in the backdrop of the Delhi government’ announcement of incentivising purchase of electric vehicles with benefits of up to Rs30,000 for two-wheelers and Rs1.5 lakh for cars.

“Tariff for charging stations for E-Rickshaw/E-vehicle on single point delivery as notified in this Tariff Schedule shall also be applicable for charging of batteries at swapping facilities provided that such swapping facilities are exclusively used for swapping of batteries of E-Rickshaw/E-Vehicle only," the statement added.

Delhi’ policy on electric vehicles (EVs) focuses on two-wheelers, four-wheelers, shared transport vehicles, and commercial vehicles to lead the change to electric mobility. The government aims to have 25% of the cars registered to be EVs by 2024.