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ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on Wednesday allowed 36 paisa per unit increase in consumer tariff for ex-Wapda distribution companies (Discos) on account of fuel cost adjustment based on changes in tariff benchmarks.

The higher rates for electricity consumed in July would be recovered from consumers in the upcoming billing month i.e. September 2018 and would yield about Rs4.5 billion in additional revenue to the Discos. The decision was made at a regular monthly public hearing presided over by Nepra Chairman Tariq Saddozai.

The Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) on behalf of the Discos claimed an additional cost of 63 paisa per unit on the basis of recently notified base tariff 2015-16 instead of previous 2014-15 tariff on the basis of which the regulator used to make monthly fuel cost adjustments in the past and resulted in refunds to consumers.

The new base tariff allowed relaxed benchmarks for power companies and higher indexations on various items. Based on 2015-16 tariff, the power regulator agreed that power generation cost was higher than actually charged to consumers in July but not as much as claimed by Discos.

The representatives of the CPPA insisted that their demand for 63-paisa per unit was justified because it was based on verified data.

The regulator, however, said some of the evidence regarding Rs2.5bn arrears claimed by the CPPA was provided to the regulator only a few hours before the hearing and could not be independently verified and some other claims were unjustified.

A case officer for the regulator said even after calculating the arrears claimed by the petitioner worked out a 45-paisa per unit increase but this could not be accepted at this stage.

The regulator asked Discos to recover 36-paisa per unit from consumers in the electricity bills due in September. The additional cost would be recovered from all consumer categories except lifeline domestic consumers, using less than 100 units per month.

The CPPA had claimed that actual fuel cost during July amounted to about Rs5.61 per unit against a pre-determined reference tariff of about Rs4.98 per unit, hence the need for 63 paisa additional recovery from consumers. Nepra, however, concluded that actual cost worked out at Rs5.338 per unit and hence 36 per unit increase.

The CPPA reported that total energy generation from all sources in July 2018 stood at 13,750.87 Gwh at a total cost of Rs73.098 bn while 13,397 Gwh were sold to the Discos at Rs75.12bn with a transmission loss of 2.5pc.

The share of hydel power generation in July remained almost unchanged at 28pc like that of June compared to 18.30pc in May. With induction of three new mega projects of 1230mw each in Punjab, the share of regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) captured the second position with a contribution of 24.5pc, compared to 23.8pc in May.

In contrast, Residual Fuel Oil (RFO)-based electricity generation dropped to 9.34pc in July while locally produced gas-based generation stood at 14.87pc. Coal-based generation had a 12.63pc share in the country’s total power generation.

There was no fuel cost on hydroelectricity while coal-based fuel cost stood at Rs6.03 per unit compared to Rs13.55 per unit fuel cost of furnace oil based plants. LNG-based generation cost amounted to Rs9.72 in July compared to Rs9.31 per unit in June because its prices are linked to international oil prices. Domestic gas based generation cost stood at Rs5 per unit.

Because of higher international oil prices and currency loss, the fuel cost of both RFO and LNG-based plants went up by almost 50-paisa and 40-paisa per unit respectively.

Nuclear energy contributed about 5.35pc electricity to the national grid at fuel cost of 95 paisa per unit while power produced by sugar mills accounted for less than 1pc share at a fuel cost of Rs6.18 per unit.

The electricity imported from Iran had a cost of Rs11.57 per unit and its total share in generation was 0.21pc in July that was almost half that of 0.41pc because of partial supply disruptions.

Wind produced 3.12pc electricity at zero fuel cost while or 0.44pc contribution came from solar energy again at no cost.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2018