Chandigarh: Electricity rates are set to become lower for domestic consumers in Punjab with the power regulator PSERC announcing 25-50 paise per unit reduction in power tariff on Monday. Also Read - BJP Will End Power Subsidy, Says Delhi CM Kejriwal

In its new tariff order for 2020-21, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission gave this relief in the wake of hardships faced by the poor section due to the coronavirus crisis. Also Read - Power becomes costlier in Punjab as utilities hike surcharge

The new tariff will be applicable with effect from June 1, 2020, till March 31, 2021, according to the tariff order. Also Read - 8.85 Lakh Families Allotted Houses in Rural Areas, Says UP CM Yogi Adityanath

“In view of the hardship being faced by the poorer section of society due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the per unit tariff for domestic consumers with load up to 50 kW & for consumption slabs of 0 to 100 units and 101 to 300 units have been reduced by 50 paise and 25 paise respectively,” the tariff order said.

This shall result in financial relief to the tune of Rs 354.82 crore to 69 lakh domestic consumers.

Though the PSERC did not give any relief to the industrial sector but at the same time, it also did not raise power tariff for it.

No increase in tariff for small shopkeepers (Non Residential Supply consumers having load upto 7 kW). No increase in the fixed part of the tariff for small, medium and large industrial consumers, as per the order.

However, the tariff for the farm sector (Agriculture pumpset) has been raised from Rs 5.28/ kWh to Rs 5.57/kWh against the power utility PSPCL’s proposal of Rs 6.95/kWh.

Notably, farmers get free power supply in Punjab.

The regulator determined the Aggregate Revenue Requirement of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) at Rs 31,100.62 crore against a demand for Rs 41,720.97 crore.

With expected revenue at the existing tariff being Rs 30,875.79 crore, the consolidated gap (deficit) worked out to be Rs 224.83 crore, which would be recovered in the remaining 10 months of the current financial year.

The regulator noted that the main reason for the revenue gap was the reduction in projected sales due to the lockdown imposed by the Central and state governments to prevent spread of coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh welcomed the decision of PSERC to reduce the domestic power tariff in spite of the revenue gap resulting from the lockdown, and expressed the hope that the rates would be further rationalised, going forward, in the interest of the people.

Singh said while his government had recommended even further reduction in tariff not just for the domestic consumers but also for the 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 PSPCL had suffered losses to the tune of Rs 30 crore a day on account of the total shutdown of business and industry, he said in an official release.

He said the most benefited would be the poorer section of the society who had been the worst affected by the pandemic.

The fact that the Commission had not increased the power tariff for small shopkeepers was also welcome in the present circumstances, when they 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.

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