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Zero loss, no chance!

Delhi’s discoms have been able to cut down losses but not completely, because of electricity mafia. for now, its residents can be happy that this summer the distributors seem ready to take on the sun

The heat is scorching and the advice is to stay indoors — which means more demand for electricity and thus, load shedding. But this time around, in fact for over a couple of years, many regions of the Capital have managed to avoid debilitating blackouts.

In some parts of Dwarka, where the hot summer months would see power outages of sometimes eight hours in a day, have seen about three to four hours in the whole season. A resident of Mayur Vihar, Sinha says that the power cuts have reduced drastically in his area. And while this was also the case, he says, when the former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit “asked power companies to give un-hindered supply,” it came with a hefty price. Now, he says that power is provided with outages of half an hour at a time, and also lower power bills.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s major promise before coming to power in Delhi was to bring down the electricity rates. After winning the elections, the Delhi government ordered DISCOMs to pay compensation to every individual household for unscheduled outages. However, this has not been able to take flight.

For now, the three major power distributors in Delhi say that they have been able to meet the power demand this summer. When Delhi’s total power demand reportedly broke all records this year on June 12, touching 6904 MW, the BSES DISCOMs, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) and BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL) had said that they had successfully met the peak power demand of 2951 MW and 1580 MW in their areas.

The third major player, TATA power-DDL told Patriot it had “successfully met the highest peak demand of this season of 1924 MW last week.” It further added that last year, the highest peak demand registered in its area was 1967 MW.

But we wanted to learn whether the companies are able to make revenue with rates, which have been kept significantly low by the AAP government.

In the second week of June, Dikshit brought up concerns on “false promises” by the Arvind Kejriwal government on electricity rates. But she was handed data which AAP claims to show that the current tariff in Delhi is half of what consumers paid in 2013, during her regime.

This makes one think that the losses incurred would have gone up. However, an official with the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) said that they are now down from losses of up to 50% to just about 18%. He painted a positive picture, and added that they hoped to completely eliminate losses.

However, in the same conversation, he made it known that it would be a little too optimistic to think they could achieve this, anytime soon. He pointed at mafias for the inability to obtain zero loss, which the official said was “difficult because there are some power sources which are inaccessible by us because of the mafia… but it is definitely better and it will continue to be so.”

The DERC, amongst other things, looks at the rationalisation of electricity tariff, and transparent policies regarding subsidies.

Data talk

Blaming theft for the cause of distribution loss should be significantly important for the DISCOMs to contain, especially as the official with the DERC points this out as the major reason to be unable to achieve a zero per cent loss rate.

We looked at the Tariff Orders for FY 2018-19 and learnt that the DERC’s analyses of the submissions of TATA power, found the distribution loss to be 8.19 per cent for the company.

This was lower than the two other major players we looked at, with BYPL, which cater to regions like Chandni Chowk, Mayur Vihar, and Patel Nagar, putting its distribution loss at 11.69%, and BRPL stating its loss as 10.19%.

Over the years, TATA powers data showed a decrease of usage by “others.” In 2012, the company incurred a demand of 154.52 MU (million unit) by what it defined as including staff, temporary, theft, misuse and its own consumption. This came down to 115.61 MU in the financial year 2017.

These numbers could be counted as a significant progress. But for both the BSES divisions, the problem of theft looks like a major issue. The report said that the stakeholders were of the view that unnecessary electrification of less occupied places was leading to theft. It also believed the provision of CISF and police force to the DISCOMs would help in the reduction of theft.

BYPL said that the teams of enforcement officers were dedicated for the detection of theft and to bring to book the offending consumers. They had already, the report said, sent “a large number of power theft accused in BYPL” to jail.

In regions bordering areas of Delhi, the concern of electricity theft has been raised by residents. In Lal Kuan, last year, a BSES team was even attacked when they reached the area to check power theft. While the rampant looting affects the DISCOMs, incurring loss, how they are able to make up for the subsidised rates at which it provides the electricity supply could be down to the surcharge of 30% it gains on the fixed charges when the load exceeds the sanctioned amount.

Interestingly though, the city seems to have a power surplus. The commission’s analysis said it observed that Delhi as a whole, had a power surplus every day from April 2018 to Sept 2018. It said that DISCOMs worked together to see that deficit of power was managed by trading through Inter DISCOM Transfer (IDT), and entering into Banking and Bilateral transactions.

So, the city may just be able to handle the prediction that power demand will go further up in July, breaching well past 7000 MW.