Can Nepra refuse power tariff hikes? Will it protect consumers against govt inefficiency?

Can Nepra refuse power tariff hikes? Will it protect consumers against govt inefficiency?


Discos want Rs4.50 per unit increase under quarterly adjustment for Oct-Dec period

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ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) a day earlier on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the management [read mismanagement] of the distribution companies and questioned the wisdom of further burdening the consumers with Rs4.5 per unit hike in electricity prices.

Now the question is whether the regulator can protect the people from this proposed move given the fact they have already been crushed by rising inflation, stagnant wages and shrinking purchasing power.

It is not just power tariffs as another gas price hike has been announced for the people on Tuesday while there are reports of increase in fuel prices with effect from Jan 16 [Friday] under the caretaker setup, at a time when the elections have been held and the elected government will assume the charge later this month.

The Nepra conducted a public hearing of the request made by the power distribution companies (Discos) through the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) to hike the power tariffs by Rs4.50 per unit for the Oct-Dec period of 2023 under the quarterly tariff adjustment (QTA), which would be collected through the monthly bills of April, May and June.

During the hearing, Nepra Member from Sindh Rafique Shaikh cited the wasting of 1,100MW of electricity daily, which results in increasing the capacity charges for consumers.

Read more: Power tariff hikes: The more you devalue rupee, the more capacity charges you pay

According to Shaikh, around 170,000 applications for power connection are pending which would have consumed 1,100MW of electricity, but the delay means the existing consumers are paying higher capacity charges, which would have been lower if the number of consumers was increased.

Moreover, he added, that the capacity charges for Quetta Power Supply Company (Qesco) are much higher than those in the case of Iesco – its counterpart in Islamabad – even when the region in Balochistan doesn’t get the required electricity supply.

Similarly, the Nepra members said buying less electricity because of redundant distribution system was increasing the capacity charges.

At the same time, the Nepra said it would hold the Discos accountable over the issue of massive overbilling in July and August last year, after these entities failed to satisfy the regulator through their replies.

It said formal show-cause notices would be issued to the Discos within a couple of days. It said the matter would be concluded within a month.

Later, the Nepra reserved its decision on the QTA, which would be announced later.