WB Industrial Consumers Took Legal Action against Power Utilities on Fixed Charges

Industrial consumers in West Bengal (WB) has dragged power utilities in the state to court after their plea for relief on fixed charges among other demands in the lockdown was rejected.

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Moreover, nodal agency West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) had also paid no heed to their demands, when they approached the regulator, the high-tension power consumers claimed, said PTI in its report.

Fixed charges are an amount that consumers pay on a monthly basis in order to stay connected to the grid, whereas variable charges are calculated on the basis of units consumed by the consumer.

As per the media report, the Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur has come in support of the industries during his recent interaction with the consumers.

Thakur suggested that the West Bengal government should allow deferment of payments for at least 6 months as the Centre has already provided Rs 90,000 crore package to the state-owned power distribution companies (Discoms), in order to extend a temporary relief.

On the matter, Vivek Adukia chairman of Steel Re-Rolling Mills’ Association of India said quoted PTI that, the state governments such as Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have offered some benefits to their industrial consumers and announced rebates on load-factor in electricity bills.

Adukia further added that “we had gone against the Damodar Valley Corporation. Other high-tension consumers had gone against their respective suppliers including WBSEDCL after their requests were turned down.”

Industrial consumers demanded to invoke of force majeure clause as the lockdown was announced by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus.

However, the court has directed WBERC to listen to their grievances, said the Chairman adding that “the regulator is yet to hear our demand. It is expected to happen soon.”

He also told that the associations of various industries have also written to the state power minister about their issues.

On the other hand, Discoms said that they can’t provide relief on fixed charges as it is a part of the current contracts and have similar agreements with power producers.

Meanwhile, Government is expected to issue guidance to central power companies including NTPC, NHPC and PGCIL advising them to defer fixed charges on electricity not drawn by Discoms and offer rebates.

Recently, Power Minister, R. K. Singh in a meeting with the Finance Commission said that there is a need for the state governments to be also conjointly responsible for the financial health of their fully owned power distribution companies (Discoms).

Besides, the Association of Power Producers (APP) in a written letter has also urged Power Minister RK Singh to advise Madhya Pradesh (MP) government to again consider its decision of denying payment of rightful dues of independent power producers (IPPs).

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Manu Tayal

Manu Tayal

Manu is an Associate Editor at Saur Energy International where she writes and edits clean & green energy news, featured articles and interview industry veterans with a special focus on solar, wind and financial segments.

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