Nepra: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) Monday allowed the state-run power distribution companies to charge an additional Rs7.0562 per unit on the bills of power customers for March 2024.

The additional charges were sanctioned by the regulator in light of the fuel charge adjustment for January 2024.

This decision is expected to impose a financial burden of approximately Rs56 billion on consumers, with the potential to rise to nearly Rs66 billion when the 18 per cent general sales tax is factored in. It is important to note that this tariff increase applies to all consumer categories, excluding electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS) and lifeline consumers. Notably, the central power purchasing agency (CPPA) in its petition on behalf of Discos had pleaded for Rs7.13 per unit.

The primary concern raised by the commentators is the enormous increase in the fuel cost of Rs.14.6206/kWh for January 2024. In view thereof, the authority, while taking strict notice of the matter, has decided to initiate an investigation to ascertain the reasons for such a huge fuel cost, claimed by CPPA-G for January 2024, under Section 27-A of the NEPRA Act.

To this effect, a separate investigation order and notice of appointment of investigation officers following Section 27 of the NEPRA Act will be issued subsequently.

The authority further decided to evaluate the performance of each DISCO individually after Ramzan to determine whether any violation of the act, rules, regulations, and licence has been committed once the data for nine months of FY2023–24 — July 2023–March 2024 — is available.

The performance evaluation shall be carried out in terms of sales, losses, recovery, connections, outages, etc., and each DISCO shall be held responsible for deviation from the benchmarks set by the authority.

In due course, the authority would also issue certain directives to each DISCO and NTDC to be placed before their respective BoDs for approval of a viable and workable plan to improve their performance and ensure compliance with the targets and benchmarks set by the authority.

The authority also directed the Ministry of Energy (MoE) to submit its power purchase price forecast for FY2024-25 and DISCOs to file their annual indexation adjustment request for FY2024-25 at the earliest to ensure that the rebasing of tariffs for FY2024-25 is done on time.

The authority further directed the MoE to bring a proposal to address the issues of system stability, south-north evacuation, system constraints, etc., in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and to increase demand.

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