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Power blows to common man in AP

by Sharath
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Several people in the State of Andhra Pradesh received power bills thrice the amount that they usually get. The government attributed the reason as increased consumption due to lockdown, but the real reason seems to be different.

Not even four months have passed since Energy Minister Balineni Srinivas Reddy announced that the government had no plans to increase power tariffs despite heavy losses incurred by the State power utilities. And yet the government has increased power tariffs.

On 10th February 2020, the YSRCP government has introduced a new order on the retail sale of electricity tariffs for the financial year 2020-21. It had revised the previous slab rates presented by TDP. The move has hit the domestic consumption and common man in the State. 

Comparison of power slabs and tariffs during TDP and YSRCP:

Category A

Slab under TDP (Units)

Tariff Slab under YSRCP (Units) Tariff

0-50

1.45 0-50 1.45

51-100

2.6 51-75

2.6

101-200

3.6

Above 200

6.9

Category B

Slab under TDP (Units)

Tariff Slab under YSRCP(Units) Tariff

0-50

2.6 0-50 2.6

51-100

2.6 51-100 2.6
101-200 3.6 101-200

3.6

201-300 6.9 201-225

6.9

301-500 7.75

 

It is visible from the above that the New Slabs under YSRCP that limit Group A consumers to 75 units and Group B to 225 units, and also the YSRCP government has changed the method of the tariff, under the TDP tariff group is calculated based on previous FY’s consumption. In contrast, JMR prefers to go by the current month consumption.

Category C

Slab under TDP (Units)

Tariff Slab under YSRCP(Units) Tariff

0-50

2.65 0-50 2.65

51-100

3.35 51-100 3.35

101-200

5.4 101-200 5.4

201-300

7.1 201-300

7.1

301-400 7.95 301-400

7.95

401-500 8.5 401-500

8.5

Above 500 9.05 Above 500

9.95

 

The YSRCP Government has increased the tariff by 90 paise per unit for consumers falling in this category C. They will now have to pay Rs 9.95 per unit against the existing Rs 9.05. The move will burden 1.35 lakh households across the state. These change in slabs and tariffs come at a time with the economic burden on the common man in the wake of the on-going corona crisis, subsequent lockdown and income loss.

As soon as a consumer increases his consumption by one unit beyond Group A and Group B slab limits his or her group changes; thus, he receives a much more increased tariff for all lower slabs also. Worst to suffer are Auto drivers, Taxi drivers, daily wage labour whose consumption is at par with average levels. One might think this is a relief for domestic customers with the use of fewer than 500 units. But there is a catch.

Taking a step back, let us have a critical view of the tariff revision:

  1. Changed Slabs leading to increase in bills by 40%

Assuming an individual consumes 76 units of power a month

Bill 76 units
Under TDP 140.1
Under YSRCP 197.6
Difference 57.5
Percentage of Difference 41%
Annual shock to consumer 690
  1. Average Customer to Pay More

The per capita electricity consumption in Andhra Pradesh is 1234 units for financial year 208-19, it translates to 102 units/month. Andhra Pradesh Stands 2nd when it comes to Highest slab rate across all Indian States.

Bill 102 units
Under TDP 209.7
Under YSRCP 262.2
Difference 57.5
Percentage of Difference 27.42%
Annual shock to consumer 690

Telescopic billing for all the customers would be based purely on monthly billing and not on their annual consumption. This will benefit the discoms and the government. Generally, as a norm, the power consumption in a year would be highest in the summer months and lowest in other months resulting in an overall consumption for that year which forms the basis for categorisation of consumers into various slabs. But due to dynamic pricing, the higher monthly consumption during the summer months, and not the overall annual consumption, will form the basis for categorisation of consumers into slabs. So mostly even if a consumer is consuming less than 500 units in the non-summer months, he/she would be moved to a higher consumption slab and will be charged a higher price per unit of electricity consumed for the entire year.

Once revealed, the government and its ministers maintained a coherent common argument when speaking with the media stating the hike affected only those who consumed over 500 units. This is was a cruel lie stated by the government and its ministers.

The decision to hike the power tariffs has caused an outrage among the people of the State who have been already quite distressed due to the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown. The opposition parties in the State are blaming the government for being irresponsible, insensibility and abuse of power, especially during such a critical situation.

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