Electric bills to rise soon

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The government has come under fire for seeking permission from the regulator for recovering Rs81.5 billion from honest consumers paying bills regularly on account of capacity charges and losses caused by theft and leakages.
Interveners called on the regulator to take strict action to fix the problem. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) held a public hearing on Wednesday to review a petition in which power distribution companies (DISCOs) sought the recovery of Rs81.5 billion from consumers under quarterly adjustment for the second quarter of financial year 2023-24.
DISCOs wanted to collect a total of Rs75,139 million on account of capacity charges and Rs10,818 million to recover transmission and distribution (T&D) losses under the monthly fuel charges adjustment (FCA).
“Is there any end to the capacity charges that are going to rise further in future after installation of more power projects,” an intervener said during the hearing.
Capacity payments go to the power plants which remain idle and do not produce any electricity but consumers are compelled to pay due to the agreements signed by different governments with power producers on a “take-or-pay” basis.
The hearing was told that electricity consumption had decreased by 12-13% in the second quarter of FY24.
Regarding efforts to reduce circular debt, the regulator said that it was not satisfied with the measures being taken in this regard. It also expressed displeasure over the absence of senior officials of DISCOs from the public hearing.
Nepra chairman stressed that they should be present to respond to the challenges being faced by the public.
“Neither the Central Power Purchasing Agency-Guarantee (CPPA-G) CEO turned up nor anyone came from the Power Division,” a member Nepra remarked and asked, “why has power consumption decreased in the country”.
The member Nepra observed that rampant load-shedding was happening in the areas of electricity companies while consumers were forced to make capacity payments.
It was noted that electricity connections that required consumption of 1,100 megawatts had been pending but DISCOs were claiming that power consumption had dropped.
The regulator announced that it would issue a decision after the scrutiny of data.