Be ready to loosen your purse strings further as Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday dropped strong hints for an imminent hike in power tariff in the city.
Indicating a hike in tariff in Delhi, Dikshit said high inflation and increase in power purchase cost will have to be factored in while finalising new rates. City's power regulator Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) is currently in the process of finalising a new tariff order for the year 2011-12.
"We are not going to put any unnecessary burden on the common man. The power tariff has not been hiked in the last three-four years. Things have changed since then. We will have to consider factors like inflation and increase in cost of living (while finalising the tariff)," Dikshit said while replying to a question on the issue.
The Chief Minister, however, said a final decision on tariff will be taken by DERC. Citing severe liquidity crunch, all the three private power distribution companies in the city have been demanding a substantial hike in tariff.
In May last year, the city government had through a notification stalled DERC's decision to announce the annual tariff for 2010-11 till it re-examines the demands from discoms to increase the rates.
The DERC, which was making last minute preparations to announce the new tariff, after receiving the government directive had indicated that it had planned to cut down the tariff by 20 to 25 per cent as discoms would have a surplus of around Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) if the existing tariff was not changed.
The government's notification was quashed by Delhi High Court in February, describing the intervention as "absolutely unjustified, unwarranted, untenable".
Although DERC was strongly arguing for a cut in tariff, the three-member regulator, following retirement and subsequent appointment of two new members, gave indication of taking a sympathetic approach to the demands of the discoms.
The DERC is likely to complete the process of finalising the tariff by end of this month and a new tariff order may be announced in early August.
The argument for not increasing the tariff is that Delhi will start producing an additional 1,500 MW power by the end of this year and then discoms will not require to buy power from open market.
At present, Delhi's power demand ranges from 4,100 MW to 4,900 MW. The city gets 2,400 MW from central quota while nearly 1,000 MW is produced by Delhi's own generating stations.
The discoms have to procure around 1000 MW to 1,2000 MW of power from the open market. Earlier addressing the ninth foundation day celebration of Delhi Transco Limited (DTL), Dikshit said the 750-MW capacity gas-based Bawana power plant is ready and it could not be operationalised due to unavailability of gas.
"We will operationalise it as soon as we get supply of gas," she said, adding the 700-MW capacity Jhajhar power plant will also be ready by end of this year. DTL, a Delhi Government utility, maintains the power transmission network in the city.
Complimenting the DTL, power department and discoms for bringing a "sea change" in power sector in the last few years, Dikshit said all the agencies should strive hard to ensure no outage takes place at all.
"As the capital of the country, we should not face a power cut of even 15 minutes," she said. Dikshit said the power demand was just 2 MW in the year 1905 which has now gone up to nearly 5,000 MW.