Monday, July 5, 2010

MERC Case 13 of 2010

My presentation has been up loaded at the BIJLEE Yahoo Group site.

Posted via email from More "Power" To The People

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pulling the plug on Mumbai

Interesting to hear RINFRA say that they've been waiting for 10 years for environmental clearance - making it osound like the Govt is 'sitting on their application'.

The fact is that they've been REFUSED permission, on environmental grounds... and rightly so!! Dahanu are the 'lungs' of Mumbai city!

Instead of finding another location, they're 'sulking' that they haven't been granted what they want (they seem to be used to getting their way!)
Pulling the plug on Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, March 31, 2010

It's going to be a long, hot summer. As in the past five years, there will be no respite for Mumbai's 26 lakh suburban power consumers.

The mercury is fast rising and air-conditioners, coolers and fans are already working overtime. Changing lifestyles and the rise in commercial activities will raise the demand further by 23 per cent, nudging it past 3,000 megawatts (MW) a day. However, supply is likely to peak at 2,400 MW - a shortfall of 600 MW.
And you could face long power cuts or higher bills.

Blame it on the poor expansion of generation capacity and a fight between two arch corporate rivals - the Tata Power Company (TPC) and Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra).

While the state government made many assurances, it could raise power generation by a mere 1.6 per cent over the past year. That leaves it with little choice but to supply power to Mumbai by depriving other parts of the state, where three- to 10-hour power cuts are the daily norm.

In Mumbai, private companies are the major players. TPC generates power and sells it to the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), which supplies the island city, and the Anil Ambani-backed RInfra, which supplies to all of Mumbai's western suburbs and most of the eastern suburbs.

The state-owned power utility plays a direct role only in some eastern suburbs, where it has managed to do away with power cuts altogether. Although this has meant higher bills, customers are satisfied.

BEST too has enough supply; it's only RInfra's customers who face a problem.

RInfra used to buy 500 MW a day from TPC. However, TPC had ambitions of its own in the electricity distribution market. After the Supreme Court allowed it to distribute power to retail consumers (so far it has only directly supplied bulk users like railways) on its own, TPC said it would stop selling to RInfra from April 1 this year.

TPC, which generates 1,900 MW, wants to use the power to supply its own distribution company and sell the remaining power, preferably to the state-owned distributor Mahavitaran. It was encouraged by its first attempt at retailing when many BEST and RInfra consumers switched to it because it offers the best rates.

Alarmed by the prospect of long power cuts and a consumer backlash, the government intervened a week ago. TPC then promised to continue the supply for another month so that the bureaucrats got time to find a solution.

If RInfra is forced to buy power from elsewhere to plug the shortfall, it would have to spend an additional Rs 600-700 crore this summer. This burden is likely to be passed on to consumers.

Both TPC and RInfra officials refused to comment, claiming the government had forbidden them from doing so.

Consumer activist Sandeep Ohri said consumers are the ones who will ultimately suffer. "What we can do is change our supplier. The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission can play a major role by encouraging competition. It must allow more private players in the city," he said.

A senior bureaucrat saw a temporary solution in the offing. "The government may ask TPC to continue supply to RInfra until the worst of the summer ends," he said on condition of anonymity because the matter was raised in the Legislature and making statements outside the House would breach protocol.

A senior RInfra official said on condition of anonymity that his company was ready to sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) for 500 MW with TPC. "In 2008, we agreed to sign a PPA without preconditions and discuss long-term options for TPC's Unit 8 [a new unit that came up last year]." TPC officials countered
that it could not be forced to supply power to RInfra.

RInfra said that expansion of its Dahanu thermal plant (which has a capacity of 500 MW) by 1,200 MW would solve Mumbai's problem. But it's stuck in red tape. "We have been waiting for environment clearance for 10 years," said the official.

2009 HT Media Limited.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Its amazing how the past can come back to haunt you

Here is a news item (TOI, 14-Sep-2003) about how REL (RINFRA's earlier AVATAR), had wanted to get a Distribution License for many cities in Maharashtra. Incidentally, Tata had also applied for few more cities. (Both applications were eventually turned down by MERC.)

REL also wanted to buy power from power producers other than TATA and MSEB. Well its been SIX years since then and RINFRA has still not formally tied up with anyone else!!

Mr. Anil Ambani had a meeting with then then CM, Mr. Sushilkumar Shinde to move this forward. Mr. Shinde, as we all know is now the Union Minister for Power (coincidence?)

Incidentally, while quoting an example of how the 'monopoly' can be broken, an example of BEST's network usage has been given (see second last para).

I do not recall BEST raising an objection at that time, that they were a "Local Authority" ...
Reliance makes power play for 5 towns
TNN 14 September 2003, 11:48pm IST

MUMBAI: Reliance Energy (formerly called BSES Ltd) has made pitch to light up Maharashtra. Following the central legislation allowing competition among firms selling electricity to consumers, Reliance Energy has made an application to the state government to distribute power directly to homes and offices in five major cities of the state— Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, Aurangabad as well as Navi Mumbai, including Vashi, Nerul, Bhandup, Mulund and parts of Thane.

At present, the loss-making Maharashtra State Electricity Board, which had a revenue deficit of Rs 1,462 crore last year, sells electricity in these areas. Sources said Reliance Energy (REL) filed the application to the state government about ten days ago.

When contacted, state chief secretary Ajit Nimbalkar said the company had made a presentation to chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde last week about setting up a new gasbased power station in the state.

"Among the suggestions made by Reliance was that it also wanted to distribute electricity to various centres," he said. "However, it is too early to comment on Reliance Energy's proposal," he added.

Follwing the meeting between Anil Ambani, CMD of REL and Mr Shinde, the chief minister appointed a committee headed by Mr Nimbalkar to look into the various proposals. "This committee will also examine the proposal to distribute electricity in five towns and cities," said Mr Nimbalkar.

According to industry sources, Reliance Energy wants to set the ball rolling to open up the state's electricity sector, after the passage of the Electricity Act at the Centre allowing competition among players in all aspects of the power sector —generation, transmission and distribution.

Reliance Energy also filed an appeal with the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission about a fortnight ago to open up the existing electricity infrastructure like power lines to competition and fix the necessary charges.

It wants MERC to allow REL to buy power from players other than Tata Power and MSEB for its operations in Mumbai's suburbs,where it sells power to 23 lakh consumers.

According to the Electricity Act, existing monopoly players have to allow other firms to use their existing infrastructure like power lines for a fee.

For instance, if another firm wants to sell power to customers in Mumbai, it can do so using BEST's network of wires but it will have to pay for it.

However, for this to start MERC has to fix the rental rates for using another firm's network and power lines.

2009 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

Calculation of Wheeling Charges - RTI reply from MERC

Those who are interested in switching over from RINFRA to Tata, already know that they would still need to pay RINFRA 'wheeling charges' - which is charged by the network owner to the billing/distribution supplier.

MERC in its Interim Order has stated that Wheeling Charges should be paid even by switchover customers.

The question in my mind was how is the Wheeling Charges calculated for TPC and RINFRA and the following details were provided by MERC (under RTI).

RINFRA-D's Low Tension (LT) for FY 2009-10, is calculated as under:
1. Wheeling Charges for the year Rs. 121 per kW per month
2. Contract Demand is 4600 MVA / MW
3. Wheeling Cost for the year is Rs. 667.92 cr (121 x 4600 x 12 / 10000)
4. Annual Sales for the year is 7560.17 Million Units
5. WC is Rs. 0.88 per kWh (667.92 / 7560.17 x 10)

RINFRA-D's High Tension (HT) for FY 2009-10, is calculated as under:
1. Wheeling Charges for the year Rs. 108 per kW per month
2. Contract Demand is 317 MVA / MW
3. Wheeling Cost for the year is Rs. 41.06 cr (108 x 317 x 12 / 10000)
4. Annual Sales for the year is 896.59 Million Units
5. WC is Rs. 0.46 per kWh (41.06 / 896.59 x 10)

TPC-D's Low Tension (LT) for FY 2009-10, is calculated as under:
1. Wheeling Charges for the year Rs. 160 per kW per month
2. Contract Demand is 110 MVA / MW
3. Wheeling Cost for the year is Rs. 21.15 cr (160 x 110 x 12 / 10000)
4. Annual Sales for the year is 572.23 Million Units
5. WC is Rs.. 0.37 per kWh (21.15 / 572.23 x 10)

TPC-D's High Tension (HT) for FY 2009-10, is calculated as under:
1. Wheeling Charges for the year Rs. 78 per kW per month
2. Contract Demand is 398 MVA / MW
3. Wheeling Cost for the year is Rs. 37.25 cr (78 x 398 x 12 / 10000)
4. Annual Sales for the year is 2065.90 Million Units
5. WC is Rs. 0.18 per kWh (37.25 / 2065.90 x 10)

For an RINFRA switchover consumer. Take the standard TPC rate, then deduct the TPC-WC (0.37) and then add the RINFRA-WC (0.88).

An Excel sheet is available with me, for those who are interested in doing 'what-if' scenarios.

RTI can get us information - but once we receive it, experts need to 'decode' it and then take follow up action. Many of the technical experts would be interested in this info and how it will affect us going forward.

There is still a VALID dispute whether switchover consumers need to pay the RINFRA WC at all or not - and this matter is also being taken up by the BIJLEE Group.

Trust this has been of help.

Uniform power tariff will cost government Rs. 3,000 cr

At the risk of being unpopular, I would like to repeat that UNIFORM TARIFF is not the answer!

Not only does it negate the benefits of a competitive environment, it is also NOT permitted by the EA 2003, UNLESS the State Govt grants a subsidy.

When the State Govt grants a subsidy - this will eventually need to be collected (as taxes) from EVERY individual, whether he/she is an electricity consumer or not!

Here is an example of what will happen - the State Govt will effectively undertake to 'fund' these utilities for their 'obscene' rates, and make the general public pay for it, by increasing taxes!! The general public will never know HOW much was collected as additional tax to pay this Subsidy!

Suppose the Govt increases the taxes across many items - and ends up collecting MORE than the Subsidy amount??

In such a situation how can uniform tariff be 'consumer friendly'?

This is similar to leaving our environmental problems to our grand-children..."as long as WE don't have to pay, who cares" - right? Is this the LEGACY we want to leave behind?

We must move away from such 'protectionist' measures and let open market competition 'force' the prices down.

Many people wonder whether RINFRA's consumers switching to TPC would make a big difference. Here are some facts:

1. RINFRA's avge costs are higher than TPC and so the consequent cross-subsidy is a larger spread.
2. On a pure arithmetical basis, it IS more cost-effective for RINFRA's high consumption users, to switch to TPC.

Now, it may appear that TPC 'wants' only high-end consumers - which is not true, as any RINFRA consumer can switch.

There are 2 sides to any argument. One could assume that since RINFRA's higher consumers have moved, it would have raise the level for the rest of its remaining consumers. However, the other side of the story is also that the Demand that RINFRA has to meet will also be lower! Consequently it would have to purchase lesser of the 'expensive' power..

This can only be determined if a really SUBSTANTIAL no of consumers switch. As I understand it, as of date only about 3000 consumers may have completed the switchover. Which is too minuscule a no considering that RINFRA has about 2.7 Million consumers!

The issue is not about RINFRA or TPC being benefited - its about each one of US - each consumer - having a choice.

As far as RINFRA's costs are concerned, I guess MERC's investigation would throw light on whether they actually needed to spend all that money on the Mumbai electricity business .. or even if they actually DID spend that money on us - maybe it WAS diverted into the RINFRA group's other ventures.

Since they have admittedly, not been maintaining separate accounts, there is quite a likelihood that they took money from us and spent it elsewhere.

Trust I have thrown some light on the issue. 

(Related news item here...)
Uniform power tariff will cost government Rs3,000cr
Ashwin Aghor / DNA
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 2:16 IST

Mumbai: If the state government does decide to take power minister Ajit Pawar's recent announcement about introducing uniform power tariffs in Mumbai seriously, it will have to be prepared to bear an additional burden of Rs3,000 crore annually for the subsidies the city's four power suppliers will have to be provided to bring their rates on a par.

Last week, during the winter session of the assembly, Pawar assured the house that the government will explore the feasibility of uniform power tariff for the city. Uniform tariff is more consumer-friendly, and has already been implemented in cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, despite them having more than one supplier.

NEWS Posts at the BIJLEE Group

Here is a summary of the some of the NEWS posts at the BIJLEE Group at Yahoo.
No DVC-Bhel link-up for Raghunathpur project

Govt spent more than required on power: CAG

Patni, Spanco among 4 cos empanelled for power project

50-paise sop will boost wind power capacity, say turbine makers

Pact with Bhutan for 4 hydel projects

They look to sun to light up Carter Road

Activists oppose proposed amendment of MSEDCL rules

BSES fudged June 2009 outage figures by 50% - Committee

Delhi private discoms claim capex of 6000 cr - DERC to enquire
You're paying Rs224.5cr for power emergencies
50 paise/unit sop for wind projects feeding power to grid 

Delhi meet finds no solution to power crisis in the state

Public hearing on TNEB's plan for 'reliability charge' 

Australia Solar Institute keen to partner Indian research bodies

TN launches power transmission co 

TN ramping up power generation capacity

Institution of Engineers favours tie-up with Nepal for hydro power

Govt targets generating 20,000 mw from solar energy by 2020

Roadmap for solar power plan only after 3 years: Farooq

Plan panel seeks note on attracting investment in power

CESC likely to generate power from Budge Budge 3rd unit soon

Govt betting big on private power projects

Feedback is welcome.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

ELCB as a safety device for consumers

I read this news item and was wondering whether shouldn't it be the duty of the utility service provider to ensure safe stabilised supply?

Also, there is a procedure in place for the utility service provider to 'check' and certify the internal wiring before supply. If all of this has been done then why does the consumer need to spend more money and install additional safety devices - at least, in my opinion it should not be made mandatory.

Well, but that's just my opinion :)

New Delhi, Nov 19 (PTI) Reliance Energy-backed discom BSES today appealed to its consumers to install earth leakage circuit breaker (ELCB) -- a safety device that helps in checking wastage of electricity and prevent accidents.

ELBC detects current to earth and prevents shocks and accidents, a BSES official said adding that it is a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind.

"This simple device detects even a small current to earth automatically tripping and disconnecting the electricity supply," he said.

The BSES has made it mandatory to install ELCB for all new connections of 5 kW and above.

"All existing consumers having a load of 5 kW and above are advised to install ELCB," he said.

Another benefit of installing an ELCB is that it also detects faulty and inter-mixing of internal wiring. On detection, the ELCB immediately trips, thus preventing potential wastage of electricity and accidents.