Sunday, January 07, 2007

REL wants you to pay another Rs. 1660 crores !!

Yes, you read that right…!!

If you thought that REL was going to rollback any of the hike levied in October ... think again ..

REL has gone and appealed against MERC, to the Appellate Tribunal of Electricity (ATE) in New Delhi. The hearing is slated for Jan 18th.

Here are the details:

A) In addition to the charges that REL wants us to pay currently, REL has appealed to ATE to “approve” the following additional expenses:

697 cr for Employee Costs
309 cr for Administration & General Exps
175 cr for Income Tax
127 cr for Repairs & Maintenance

Total Rs. 1308 cr

B) If you recall BSES had also given rebates and discounts to a few industrial and commercial users like L&T, TOI, M&M, etc .. well REL wants that Rs. 350 cr back as well.

C) MERC had asked REL to cut down its Transmission & Distribution losses by 0.5% .. from 12.1% to 11.6% .. REL refuses to agree to this also, so you can safely add a few more crores.

So we’re looking down the barrel of the gun…. for at least Rs. 1658 cr (1308+350).

Divide this by the number of consumers (25 lakh) and we get an additional bill of approx Rs. 6,600 per year, in ADDITION to the ridiculously high Oct-Nov-Dec type bills.

MERC had disallowed these amounts and had recorded various reasons for doing this. For instance, MERC did not allow the full income tax amount claimed by REL, as REL is doing other business and they were not able to figure out how much profit was to be ascribed to these other businesses and hence the total Income Tax was not allowed.

Now here are my issues (you knew I had them, didn’t you ?)

1. The Electricity Act, 2003 states that an appeal can be made within 45 days only, unless there are valid reasons. REL has filed its appeal against the 1-7-2004 Order, on 30-10-2006, nearly two years later ! Why did ATE even admit the matter ?

2. The Electricity Tariff Policy 2006 released by the Government of India on 6-1-2006 states that past losses are not allowed to be carried through, unless they are on account of “uncontrollable factors.” Also, it states that suppliers can charge less than approved rates, as long as they do not claim those discounts/rebates again in their Revenue statements. By this logic, REL cannot charge back this 350 cr – as it was a voluntary discount given by them. There were no “uncontrollable factors” and neither was there any compulsion to offer these discounts.

3. In any case, if 350 cr of “wrong” discounts were given – they should go back to those persons/companies and claim that back only from them – why penalize EVERYONE ?

4. With so much of capital investment planned and done, REL cannot even accept a small reduction in transmission & distribution loss ?? Then why undertake so much of modernization and upgradation ??

REL is flouting all rules and yet is attempting to claim all benefits under the Electricity Act - and it still doesn't have a Licence in its own name - as admitted by MERC again on 19-12-2006 !!

Now, if REL wins this case, you can just about forget trying to “reverse” any of the existing hikes, they will be back with a vengeance to claim higher bills from you and me and the rest of us ...

On behalf of 25 lakh consumers, we are fighting a lone battle against this Goliath .... and are running short of resources ... severely short ...

Can anyone help ??

Well ... and that's how I feel ...

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