A comprehensive study recently done by the Forum of Regulators (FOR) on India’s power sector said, in several states tariff structure is complex and lacks transparency. They are non-cost reflective. Each consumer category is further split into sub-categories and this is preventing the consumers from responding to tariff signals. Across various states, the industrial tariff has been high coupled with low-quality of supply.
FOR is a representative body of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and the state electricity regulatory commissions. Between 2006-07 and 2014-15, electricity procurement from utilities grew by 4.6 per cent annually, which is lower than the 9.3 per cent growth in captive power generation.
A FOR member, who did not wish to be identified, told Business Standard, “The analysis brought out that for various states, at the current level of transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, the average tariffs are less than the average cost of supply. Even with T&D losses considered at 10 per cent, the tariff would be less than average cost of supply. Further, a detailed analysis across nations on parameters of GDP, tariff level and quality of supply indicates that India stands low on per capita GDP, high on industrial tariff and low on quality of supply.”
He said as industrial sector contributes significantly to the GDP, further increase in industrial tariff, cross subsidy surcharge would negatively impact the GDP.
Price barriers such as high industrial tariff, high cross subsidy surcharge and non-price barriers such as low quality and erratic supply, ease of procuring power through open access has led to a shift to captive generation. As the industrial tariff crosses the limit of Rs 6 per unit, the consumers tend to move towards power procurement through open access.
FOR study shows that cross subsidy surcharges (CSS) across states varies across states and in some cases as high as Rs 3.42 per unit. As the industrial tariff crosses the limit of Rs 6 per unit, the consumers tend to move towards power procurement through Open Access. ''These barriers by states have not only resulted in making open access a non-starter, but are also causing serious impediments to the ''Make in India'' vision of the Government,'' FOR says in its study.
FOR has recommended transparency & simplicity in retail electricity tariffs structure. It has cited one price in other commodities like diesel and petrol. According to FOR, too many categories and sub-Categories in electricity tariffs, makes it prone to leakages and therefore emphasized the need for cost reflective tariffs necessary for the recovery of cash strapped distribution companies.