Amid COVID-19 Outbreak, Delhi Announces Rebates for Electricity Consumers

Considering the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and the repercussions it has had on several services, including power supply, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) has announced rebates and incentives on power bills raised between March 24, 2020, to June 30, 2020.

It has also reduced the rate of late payment surcharge (LPS) from 18% to 12% per annum for bills that are raised between March 24, 2020, and June 30, 2020. The rebate will apply to the net amount to be paid by the consumer.

According to DERC, consumers making payments in the first seven days will get a rebate of 1% on the bill amount (excluding arrears), not exceeding ₹200 (~$2.63).

If the payment is made between day 8 to 14 of the billing date, then the consumer gets a rebate of 0.5% on the bill amount, not more than ₹150 (~$1.98). However, the consumer will not get a rebate in case of partial payments.

The DERC added that an additional rebate of ₹20 (~$0.26) per bill would be provided if the consumer produces the meter reading.

The Commission has also relaxed the provisions of Regulation 137 of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (Terms and Conditions for Determination of Tariff) Regulations, 2017. As per the relaxation, the distribution companies will pay the late payment surcharge to power generators and transmission licensees at a reduced rate of 1% instead of 1.5% per month as specified in the regulations. It applies to bills generated between March 24, 2020, and June 30, 2020.

The DERC has also said that distribution companies should bear all types of banking charges or processing fees or convenience fees, if any, for all modes of digital payments up to ₹10,000 (~$131.84) for the bills raised between March 24, 2020, to June 30, 2020.

The electricity bills may be raised on a provisional basis for those consumers who do not have smart meters and automatic meter reading. In addition to the physical copy, the electricity bills, either actual or provisional, will also be sent to the consumers through electronic modes such as e-mail, SMS, and Whatsapp.

Previously, DERC received inputs from the distribution licensees of Delhi that requested the regulatory guidance of the Commission on a proactive basis to mitigate the force majeure conditions.

The DISCOMs submitted the following points:

  • They will be deferring the annual review of the sanctioned load or contract demand until the situation normalizes
  • The overall revenue collections and average billing rate of DISCOMs have been adversely affected since March 2020. They have written to power utilities, seeking a waiver of late payment surcharge. Here, the DISCOMs requested the Commission to direct the power generators in the NCT of Delhi not to levy LPS for any non-payment or short payment of the energy bills.
  • To consider the processing fee on all digital payments for the period starting from March 23, 2020, until the situation normalizes as pass-through during truing up of expenses for the financial year 2019-20.
  • The banking charges/processing fee for all digital payments on behalf of its consumers, borne by the DISCOMs, be allowed as an additional O&M expense while truing up for FY 2019-20/FY 2020-21. By doing so, consumers whose electricity dues are more than ₹5,000 (~$65.92) will be encouraged to make online payments.
  • Incentives to consumers for self-meter reading and early payment of electricity dues.
  • Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL) will raise energy bills on a provisional basis in respect of consumers not covered under smart meters and automatic meter reading.

The DERC observed that on March 18, 2020, the maximum demand met for Delhi was 3,439 MW, which fell by 30% to 2,419 MW on March 25, 2020 – the first day of the lockdown.

The Commission also noted that the Power System Operation Corporation Limited, a Government of India enterprise, informed its stakeholders that in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, electricity demand is expected to fall sharply in the coming days.

Also, the ‘Janta Curfew’ on March 22, 2020, had seen a 10-15% reduction in the power demand as compared to a week before (March 15, 2020) for different hours of the day. “As the country goes under lockdown, further reduction in power demand is expected,” the DERC noted.

The Commission also highlighted that due to the nationwide lockdown to arrest the spread of the deadly virus, there had been a complete shutdown of several commercial and industrial establishments. The DERC observed that due to this, the cash flow in the value chain might be temporarily impeded. The Commission also observed that DISCOMs should extend the due date for payment of electricity bills raised from March 24, 2020, until June 30, 2020, by another two weeks without any LPS.

Further, a moratorium on the payment of fixed charges for the next three billing cycles beginning from March 24, 2020, is provided to the consumers covered under the public utilities, industrial and non-domestic tariff categories.

Recently, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) reduced the rate for late payment surcharge payable by DISCOMs to power generators. The surcharge was reduced to 12% per annum from the earlier 18% if the due date falls between March 24, 2020, and June 30, 2020, as previously reported by Mercom. Following this, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission also provisionally reduced the rate of late payment surcharge to 6% per annum if the due date falls between March 24, 2020, and June 30, 2020.

With the ongoing lockdown caused due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the center and state governments are making efforts to support the renewable industry. You can find out all the latest developments and the impact of Coronavirus on the renewable industry on Mercom India’s live updates blog for COVID-19.

Image credit: Bjoertvedt / CC BY-SA