Sunday, November 29, 2009

BIJLEE posts will now appear only on BIJLEEPOWER

I've contemplated doing this for a long time - and its about time I find the time (and follow the discipline) of doing this.

All BIJLEE (electricity) related posts would appear on the BIJLEEPOWER blog (

Wanted to keep this blog, more or less, of a personal one in nature.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Calculate savings of switchover to TATA

After much work, anguish and deliberations, MERC had issued an Interim Order in the matter of switchover to TATA. I am happy to inform you that we have successfully had the first case of a switchover. An existing RINFRA consumer has been duly moved to TATA - using RINFRA's network and TATA's Meter!

Now, before everyone decides to do the same, first check whether it makes economic sense to switch to TATA. To help you, I have prepared a detailed Excel sheet for Single Phase, Residential consumers (LT-I) Tariff showing the exact calculations and savings of moving from RINFRA to TATA.

Here are some of the results of the calculations in the PRESENT scenario.

For 1,500 units per month:
Existing RINFRA Bill = Rs. 13,391    Switchover TATA Bill = Rs. 9,212
Monthly Savings = Rs. 4,179    Annual Savings = Rs. 50,147

For 1,000 units per month:
Existing RINFRA Bill = Rs. 8,309    Switchover TATA Bill = Rs. 5,828
Monthly Savings = Rs. 2,482    Annual Savings = Rs. 29,780

For 800 units per month:
Existing RINFRA Bill = Rs. 6,277    Switchover TATA Bill = Rs. 4,474
Monthly Savings = Rs. 1,803    Annual Savings = Rs. 21,634

For 500 units per month:
Existing RINFRA Bill = Rs. 3,172    Switchover TATA Bill = Rs. 2,387
Monthly Savings = Rs. 784   Annual Savings = Rs. 9,413

For 350 units per month:
Existing RINFRA Bill = Rs. 1,857   Switchover TATA Bill = Rs. 1,490
Monthly Savings = Rs. 368    Annual Savings = Rs. 4,412

For 200 units per month:
Existing RINFRA Bill = Rs. 879   Switchover TATA Bill = Rs. 760
Monthly Savings = Rs. 119    Annual Savings = Rs. 1,427

For 100 units per month:
Existing RINFRA Bill = Rs. 316    Switchover TATA Bill = Rs. 307
Monthly Savings = Rs. 9    Annual Savings = Rs. 108

It seems clear from the above, that only those consumers who have a higher monthly consumption would benefit more by switching to TATA from RINFRA.

However, the decision to DO-THE-SWITCH must be an informed, long-term decision and not a short-term knee jerk reaction. The attached file covers the PRESENT scenario as well a few other known possible scenarios that may happen in the next one year. For instance:

a) Due to approvals from earlier MERC and ATE Orders, RINFRA already has an 'uncovered gap' of Rs. 1,079 crores! Suppose they get an approval to charge this in next year's Tariff - what would be the impact?

b) MERC has stayed the RINFRA June 2009 Tariff Order, but suppose the stay order is lifted?

c) RINFRA has gone to High Court and asked for a stay on the limit of Fuel Adjustment Charge (FAC) of 67 paise. They are asking for 113 paise/unit. Suppose they succeed?

d) In this Interim Order, MERC has allowed RINFRA to collect Wheeling charges, despite our protests that we have already paid for these. In case, it is ruled that we do not have to pay RINFRA Wheeling charges, then the NEW switchover bills will be even more lower.

e) If the consumer uses a TATA meter instead of a RINFRA Meter, it is possible that consumption recording itself is lower!

The attached Excel file also shows how much would be the difference in case the above scenarios start playing out.

Do feel free to circulate this to all concerned and please send me feedback - especially if there are any errors (this is so complicated, even though I've tried my best, there may still be some mistakes!)

This Excel file is also available on the BIJLEE Group in the Files section here:

I will request MERC to prepare such types of Calculators and host them on their websites.

Trust this has been of help to you :)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mumbai Power Tariff - a few facts

There seems to be a lot of (mis) information being spread - about the Mumbai Power Tariff situation, which is leading to confusion in the minds of the people.

I thought of contributing my opinion to the on-goings. Please spare a few moments and go through this post.

1. State Govt can bring down tariff.
Well, not really .. NO. The power to determine tariff rates are SOLELY with MERC, as per the Electricity Act, 2003. NO STATE GOVT can set the rate. At best the State Govt can grant a SUBSIDY (meaning the rate to the consumer will be low, but the Govt will pay the supplier directly).

In such circumstances, the Govt ends up incurring a loss (and Maharashtra is already in a loss) and will eventually RAISE TAXES in some other form to compensate for this loss. So we consumers WILL end up paying for this anyway, in case the State Govt gives any supplier any kind of subsidy!

2. Uniform Tariff in Mumbai
Uniform Tariff is NOT permitted by the EA 2003!! IN fact the whole concept of 'competition' will become defunct is the tariff is the same for all suppliers. Like in PETROL.

Also, (again) the Govt will have to end up paying the supplier to HOLD prices at a particular (LOW) level. This is what the Delhi Govt had been doing for the past three years - and now that subsidy has also been withdrawn recently.

3. Lower rates are benefiting builders/malls.
Builders/Malls had a much higher rate - which is partly on account of something called "cross-subsidy". This means that if the avge cost of power is Rs. 4 (say), then some users are charged Rs. 2-3, and the others are charged Rs. 5-7 (to make up for the 'discount' to the lower users).

The EA 2003 and the National Tariff Policy have mandated that the level of cross-subsidy is too high and MUST be brought down. Hence the unusually high rates MUST come down and (consequently), the lower rates WILL go up.

There's NOTHING that the Mah State Govt can do in this - neither can the MERC be held responsible - they are just following the law.

4. Tata Power is 'responsible' for the power shortage (!)
At the risk of sounding like a Tata spokesperson ....Did you know that Tata Power kept supplying power to REL/RINFRA even though it was NOT paid for THREE years? Well, you try and NOT pay RINFRA for three months and what happens??

Tata Power set up an additional capacity of 250MW in the last 10 years - while BSES/REL/RINFRA did not set up a single MW. Tata Power was formally given permission by MERC to shut down its plant as there was no need for additional power (as claimed by BSES/REL) - immediately thereafter BSES/REL started making claims for higher charge (reliability charges, etc) to 'ensure' continued power to Mumbai.

RINFRA did not sign any deal with Tata - and now, from 31.3.2010, its also going to lose the 500MW that Tata was giving it.

5. Tata is selling Power outside Mumbai for a profit.
Yeah, sure, Tata is getting money for the power it supplies to MSEDCL. There is nothing in the EA 2003 that can force a Generating company to supply power to any particular area/distributor.

Even RINFRA is selling power generated by its own companies, outside the State - RINFRA's Samalkot plant generates 220MW, Goa does 48MW and Kochi has 165MW - but does ANY of this come to Mumbai?? WHY??

RINFRA has been desperately trying to get the environmental clearance waived for its Dahanu expansion plan (1200MW) citing Mumbai shortage as the reason. The Supreme Court has stayed this - as it does not want any more pollution near Mumbai. Rightly so!

I'm not in favour of Tata - neither am I against RINFRA - I'm in favour of the CONSUMER, his/her rights, and the deal he/she is getting from the suppliers.

If anyone feels differently - they are most welcome - but for now, the law is WITH us consumers - we have a choice and we should be given the right to switch suppliers and put our own meters, so till the law changes ... well, this is it!

You decide...

For more info, join the BIJLEE group on Yahoo by sending an email to - or just visit and read the messages.

Thanks, for your time - I value it :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

MERC appointed me as an Authorised Consumer Rep!!

Guess what?? MERC (on their own) actually appointed me as an Authorised Consumer Representative, under section 94(3) of the Electricity Act 2003 - in a case filed by RINFRA.

I guess with a new Chairman at MERC, the consumers are finally beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel!

Already, we have a choice in Mumbai now... we can chose to move to Tata Power, from RINFRA, BEST or MSEDCL.

Soon this will pave the way for competition in the electricity sector, across India - and the consumer will be able to move freely between electricity providers - very much like telecom providers!

Happy Independence Day :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

MERC has been LYING to the public for SIX years!!

What expectations can you have from an organization that has been LYING to the Public for the last 6 years.

As per the Electricity Act 2003, the Regulatory Commissions (MERC, here in Mah.) are supposed to appoint 'Consumer Representatives' so that these persons (or organisations) can 'represent' consumer interest, in various matters - especially in determining tariff.

Section 94(3) states, "(3) The Appropriate Commission may authorise any person, as it deems fit, to represent the interest of the consumers in the proceedings before it."

MERC has always led us (the public) to believe that the following four agencies have been "authorised by the Commission" under 94(3):
1. Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, Mumbai
2. Prayas Energy Group, Pune
3. Thane Belapur Industries Association, Navi Mumbai
4. Vidharba Industries Association, Nagpur

See MERC's RINFRA Tariff Order issued on 15-Jun-2009, where MERC is stating that hearings were conducted in the presence of 'consumer representatives' authorised under 94(3).

MERC has been allowing ONLY these four to attend and hear the initial, critical technical validation sessions for Tariff fixation - and in fact, for some of the hearings it only allows these four to attend - and does not allow the Public to participate.

On 19-Dec-2003, MERC issued an Order stating that they had appointed these four as Consumer Representatives. There was NO selection, NO invitations from the public, NO systematic methodology for such appointment, NO fixed term, NO responsibilities defined - NOTHING.

MERC just 'hand-picked' these guys ... (I wonder why?) ... and then gave them an 'open-ended' appointment!! There is NO TERMINATION date for these appointments.

I wanted to know more details and so I filed an RTI on 01-Jun-2009 (otherwise they are inclined not to respond) and to my surprise, they replied on 02-Jul-2009 that there has been NO appointment by them under Section 94(3) or under their own Regulation 18 !!

So why has MERC been 'misleading' us to believe that our (consumer) interest is being 'protected' by these 'representatives'!!

These guys could very well be the STOOGES of the electricity companies - and therefore are not really bothered about general consumer interest. No wonder tariff has been continuously rising since 2003 ...

I demand that ALL Tariff Orders issued by MERC, since 2003 be revoked, since due process of law has not been followed. Tariff to be rolled back to the pre-2003 levels.

Most of this happened during the tenure of the earlier Chairman, Dr. Pramod Deo - who is now the Chairman of CERC. The present Chairman, V.P.Raja is, unfortunately, facing all the flak...

Also, see the manner in which MERC has responded to my queries, I know for a fact that certain agencies HAVE applied - and MERC has been silent on this.

How long will you remain silent and continue to let such unscrupulous agencies get away with such blatant lies?

Send an email to MERC and let them know how you feel. Their email ID is

Tell the present Chairman to reopen ALL the Tariff Orders passed by his predecessor.

THAT's the ONLY way you will get some respite from rising tariff - who knows - you may also get a REFUND!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Fed up with Reliance's BIJLEE Tariff?? Just "DO-THE-SWITCH" from Reliance Infra (or REL, whatever!) to Tata Power.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Tata CAN supply electricity to anyone in Mumbai, even a single individual!

When you switch between mobile (or land line) phone service providers e.g. from MTNL to Airtel or Vodafone - you don't care how many cables they have laid or how many towers they have - so why should you care whether Tata has the necessary infrastructure in your area.

It is your RIGHT ... and their DUTY.

You may want to inform your contacts about this as well - go ahead and forward this info to whoever would like to DO-THE-SWITCH.

Tata's standard application form is available on their website, or you can apply ONLINE here:
call 1800-22-7575 (TOLL FREE) or 6668 8354/55/59/60

At the new Tariff rates today, for 100 units:
A Tata Consumer will pay Rs. 205
A BEST Consumer will pay Rs. 261
A RInfra Consumer will pay Rs. 391

...and for 300 units:
A Tata Consumer will pay Rs. 885
A BEST Consumer will pay Rs. 1,165
A RInfra Consumer will pay Rs. 1,712

RInfra's rate is approx 90% higher than Tata and approx 50% higher than BEST!

Also, see how much your RInfra bill has gone up over the years.

For 100 units, in R-Infra area:
In Sep 2006, you paid Rs. 205
In Jun 2008, you paid Rs. 290
Now we will pay, Rs. 391

UP 90% in 3 years and 35% in 1 year!!

You can decide for yourself, if you want to continue paying such rates to Reliance - or DO-THE-SWITCH to Tata.

Let's be practical here - taking out morchas to Reliance's office will NOT help. They will simply pass the onus on to MERC, who is responsible for approving these rates. We must hold MERC accountable, R-Infra is after all a private company out to make profits, so why should they not take advantage of the system.

"Awareness precedes choice", and when you are at the Choice Point you WILL make a choice - even between action and inaction.

Inform as many people in Mumbai, so that everyone knows that they can also .....DO-THE-SWITCH!

If you are having trouble, just send me an email. We will help you. Many Citizen's groups and NGOs are helping consumers to DO-THE-SWITCH.

With warm regards,

Monday, May 04, 2009

My presentation at MERC's hearing

Check this out...

Its the presentation I made at MERC's Public hearing on Rel Infra's Tariff petition.

Got a copy thru RTI.

Hope this encourages more people to make presentations.

More at

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Post 30 Apr - NEXT IS WHAT ??

Ever since 26/11, we have seen a surge in the number of Groups. Online groups at Facebook, Yahoo, Orkut and Offline Groups, like JNM (incidentally, who are doing great work). 'Offline' .. strange, how we refer to the real world as 'offline,' as if our real lives are no longer ONLINE!

Anyway, the real issue is (as Samsung asks) NEXT IS WHAT??

We saw a huge surge in patriotism and candle-burning and midnight vigils and promises of meeting every 26th at Gateway ... and now??
It's been 4 months since 26/11.
> Have the Police reforms issue moved even one step forward?
> Has the security improved?
> Have the threats gone away?
> Has justice been done to the city?

For crying out loud, everyone seems to have forgotten the poor souls who lost their lives!

I see the same pattern here. I receive 40-50 emails everyday informing me about how important it is to vote, go vote, find out about your candidate, find about his/her assets, know his/her criminal record, vote for the best independent candidate, etc., etc. - ad infinitum .. ad nauseum...

There is a new found 'patriotism' and we have many more 'independent' candidates in the fray. People from all walks of life, ordinary people ('one of us'), rich people, educated people, first-timers, young people .. all have jumped in.

And you know what I fear? These candidates will 'divide' the already fragmented educated, internet-savvy, gen-next votes!! I would have really liked to see the main parties back THESE new candidates - THAT would have made all the difference!

On the other hand, now what's going to happen is that the new wave voters are going to vote for these (numerous) independents, and further divide the votes. The winners are STILL going to be from one of the MAIN frontline parties.

Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that Dr. Mona Shah or Indur Chuggani and their ilk, are really going to win. God Bless them for their efforts - it's not easy - and, personally, I will be voting for an educated independent candidate myself!

What we need to happen - is to get the main parties to support candidates like Dr. Shah and Mr. Chuggani. It is THEN that we will see the CHANGE. Getting Mr. Adolf D'Souza into the Corporation is one story and getting someone into the Parliament is another!

In any case, what happens AFTER our beloved, chosen, educated, independent and most-worthy, candidate .. LOSES .. and we get the same crappy bunch of jokers once again?? That is when our real resolve will be tested.

I'm speaking from my own experience of the fight on the BIJLEE (electricity) issue. There was a huge hue-and-cry and massive din in Sept/Oct 2006 .. and the public hearing took place and then the Order was passed and people resolve themselves to the fact that 'nothing can be done' and get back to their lives. But, the key is in pursuing the issue, even when public awareness has died down. For instance, there are still a handful of us who have kept going hammer-and-tongs at the MERC, since 2006... and that's making a difference, even though it's a small difference.

I suggest a three-prong, long term approach to this issue.

1. We MUST vote - there are no two ways about it. If we do not vote, we have no right to complain.

2. We must EDUCATE the masses - its their vote that actually decides who gets into the parliament and drafts the laws that govern our children's lives. It is THEY who are the gullible, misled ones who the Politicians divide on the basis of caste, creed, religion, economy and whatever else!

3. While we are doing the first 2, we must continue to keep the bureaucrats and administrators in check. These 'babus' in the government offices are there to smoothly run the administration services and not to 'rule' over us. RTI is an effective way of doing that. Having received a reply, we must ensure that there is a systematic way of disseminating that (incriminating) information amongst all. And when I say all I mean the masses as well.

There is a fourth one - regarding the FOURTH estate - but I am assuming that they will rise to the challenge and ensure fairness by giving all citizen's issues fair mileage.

Would love to hear from all of you ...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Public Response in Reliance Tariff hike

The response that I will be submitting to Reliance is attached here and here

Go through it so that you may understand the issues we are dealing with. I am not a legal expert and the legal fraternity may excuse my attempt at this :)

Anyway, I have attempted to include all the issues that would affect Residential consumers.

The procedure is thus:

1. Fill in your name, postal address tel/mobile and email ID (before you take prints). Details need to be filled on Page 1, Page 2 and Page 19.

2. Before Thurs, March 19th, make sure one copy is delivered to
Mr. Ramesh Shenoy, Company Secretary
Reliance Infrastructure Limited
Reliance Energy Centre
Santa Cruz (E)
Mumbai 400055

You would need to show proof of service so make 2 copies and get one stamped / acknowledged by their office - or retain Fax/courier slip (in which case you may need to do it at least one day earlier). There is no email provided for Reliance - so that makes it a little more difficult for us! However, I tried sending it to

3. Make 6 copies of the submission (actually make 7, you will need one for yourself!) and attach the fax/courier/stamped page on all 6 copies and then send it before Thurs Mar 19th, to
The Secretary
Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
13th Floor, Centre No. 1, World Trade Centre
Cuffe Parade
Mumbai 400005
Fax: 2216 3976

To see what really happens, come for the Public Hearing on Thurs Mar 26th at Rangsharda Natya Mandir, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (W). The hearing starts at 11am.

Let's try and ensure we get justice done !

- Sandeep.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reliance's Proposed Tariff Hike

I have been going through the Reliance Tariff petition and was trying to find out the increase in electricity charges, since Sep 2006 (the past 30 months). I was surprised with the results and decided to prepare a 'calculator' for Reliance customers to realize how much their tariff has gone up in the past 30 months.

I've uploaded the file here on the Bijlee YahooGroup site and you can sign in to access it (scroll down the list to reach the file "Revised_Reliance_Tariff_Calculator.xls).

All you need to do is input your consumption in the yellow box on the first sheet - and the data will appear as to how much you would have paid at various intervals during this time frame. The dates taken are based on the various tariff orders issued by MERC.

I have included the figure of what would happen, if Reliance's current proposal is approved.

Just to give you a few examples:
1. If your consumption is 100 units - in Sep 2006 you would have paid Rs. 205.29, and (if Reliance's proposal is approved) from Apr 2009, you would be paying Rs. 418.76 - a whopping 104% up in 30 months - and average of almost 42% per year (or 3.5% per month)

2. If your consumption is 400 units - in Sep 2006 you would have paid Rs. 1,577.15, and (if Reliance's proposal is approved) from Apr 2009, you would be paying Rs. 2,923.84 - an increase of 85% in 30 months - and average of approx 34% per year (or nearly 2.9% per month).

Just to put this in perspective, the official Inflation Index for India for FY 2006-07 was 519 and for FY 2008-09 it is 582, which means that as per the Govt. the actual inflation has been around 12% (582/519) for this period.

Also, from Sep 2006 till date, central excise duty has come down from 14% to 8% (down 43%), service tax has come down from 12.36% to 10.3% (down 17%), the price of oil (per barrel) has come down from US$ 63.75 to US$ 41.31 (down 35%) - and yet Reliance has petitioned MERC with an increase that will end up in us paying almost 30% MORE.

I wonder if our disposable incomes went up as much !!

The MERC Public Hearing on Reliance's Tariff Petition is scheduled for Thursday, March 26th at Rangsharda, Bandra Reclamation at 11am. I trust at least a few of you would file a public response opposing the hike (I will be filing one - and you would like to do that, please email me and I send you a copy of what I file).

For those who can't wait - send an email to - not that they take cognizance of emails - but still 1,000 emails can make a BIG difference - considering that there are about 28 Lakh consumers of Reliance... and don't forget to mark me a copy!

Go ahead and try this - and do send me your feedback at (bouquets and brickbats - both will be accepted humbly).

- Sandeep

(Disclaimer: I have tried to make this calculator as accurate as possible - but please try and understand that this is really complex and hey.. who said everyone was perfect!)