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Chandigarh, June 1 (Gurpreet): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has welcomed the decision of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) to reduce the domestic power tariff in spite of the revenue gap resulting from the Covid lockdown, and expressed the hope that the rates would be further rationalised, going forward, in the interest of the people.

The Chief Minister said while his government had recommended even further reduction in tariff not just for the domestic consumers but also for industry, the PSERC had been unable to accommodate the state’s request in view of the steep fall in revenue collection. In April alone, the Punjab State Power Corporation had suffered losses to the tune of Rs 30 crore a day on account of the total shutdown of business and industry, he noted.

Pointing out that the process of rationalisation of domestic tariff had been carried out for the first time in many years in the state, Captain Amarinder said even with the current reduction in load up to 50 kW (50 paise per unit and 25 paise per unit for consumption slabs of 0 to 100 units and 101 to 300 units respectively) would give relief of Rs 354.82 Crore to 69 lakh domestic consumers. The most benefitted were the poorer section of the society who had been the worst affected by the pandemic, he added.

The fact that the Commission had not increased the power tariff for small shopkeepers (NRS consumers having load upto 7 kW) was also welcome in the present circumstances, when such shopkeepers were badly hit by the lockdown.

Though the demand of the industry for lowering of fixed charges could not, unfortunately, be met at this critical time, when the state was facing a massive economic challenge, the Chief Minister expressed satisfaction at the fact that there was no increase on this count, for any category of industrial consumers.

Captain Amarinder also welcomed the Commission’s decision to continue with the special night tariff with 50% Fixed Charges and Energy Charge of Rs. 4.83/kVAh for LS/MS industrial consumers using electricity exclusively during the hours of 10:00 PM to 06:00 AM, and to extend it to small power (SP) industrial category consumers. This would help the small units overcome some of the economic losses suffered due to the lockdown, he pointed out. Further, he said the decision on continued billing at reduced energy charges for consumption in excess of threshold limit of the last two fiscals would boost use of surplus power by the industry, which would, in turn, help bring the beleaguered industry on track in the post-lockdown era.

Captain Amarinder said his government would continue to explore ways and means of ramping up revenue generation and reducing the revenue gap caused by the Covid lockdown in order to push for further power tariff rationalisation, going forward.

The Chief Minister reiterated his government’s commitment to continue providing subsidised rates to industry and free power to the farmers, notwithstanding the revenue shortfall in the state exchequer in view of the lockdown. The government will also continue to subsidise SC/BC and BPL domestic consumers with 200 free units per month, he added.