Kerala hikes power tariff by 30 per cent


TRIVANDRUM — The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) on Thursday announced a steep hike of 30 per cent in the tariff of electricity in the state triggering protests from various quarters.

The Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) notified the highest tariff hike in 10 years with retrospective effect from July 1. The new rates will be valid until March 31, 2013, according to a commission notification. The Commission has also imposed a surcharge of Rs20 on single-phase connections for consumption in excess of 40 units and Rs.60 on three-phase connections. The hike in tariff will also apply for street lighting, the notification said.

The tariff for consumers would go up from a minimum of 35 paise per unit to a maximum of Rs1.50. For above 500 units, it would be Rs6.50 per unit. The tariff for high tension users has been hiked from Rs2.70 per unit to Rs4.10.

Extra high tension consumers, using 66 and 110 KV lines, would have to pay an additional 44 paise as demand charge and an increase of Rs1.10 per unit for energy charge, the commission notification said. According to the commission, the increase is estimated to net the KSEB additional revenue of Rs16.7 billion a year. This would partially offset its revenue deficit of Rs18.8 billion this year, caused mainly by purchase of high cost power from outside, the commission notification added.

The hike covers all categories of consumers such as agriculture, low tension industries, all types of non-domestic consumers like old age homes and orphanages and all categories of commercial establishments.

The commission finalized the hike on the basis of proposals submitted by the KSEB and after public hearing. The hike comes at a time when the state is heading towards a grim crisis with fast depleting storage levels in reservoirs due to a 40 per cent deficiency in South West monsoon rains.

According to KSEB, the dams under it has so far received only 48 per cent of the projected inflow this monsoon. The total water storage during the same period last year was enough to generate 2,016 million units.

Currently the dams have water that can generate only 770 million units of electricity. The average daily consumption in the state at present is 55 million units.

The announcement of the hike triggered instant protests from youth organizations. The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the opposition Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPM), barged into the office of the SERC demanding a roll back of the hike.

CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said the “exorbitant” hike would take the state backwards with regard to development. The hike will overburden the people who are already reeling under the pressures of inflation.