Agartala: Power Minister Ratan Lal Nath stated that high international gas prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war have added financial pressure to Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited (TSECL). Consequently, the Tripura Electricity Regulatory Committee (TERC) had to increase power tariffs.
Minister Nath was responding to the backlash that the Tripura power department faced after the hike was announced. Opposition political parties targetted the government for putting an extra burden on the middle class by increasing the cost of electricity.
Briefing media persons at the civil secretariat, Nath explained that even after the increase in power tariffs the state owned power distribution company would continue to incur losses as the gap between generation of revenue and expenses is still big.
The minister, however, is optimistic about turning TSECL into a profitable government venture by improving billing efficiency and preventing pilferage.
“When the Left was in power, tariffs were revised on multiple occasions in the financial years 2006-07, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively. The cumulative hike in energy tariff if all put together stands at 134%. After that, there was no hike till 2023. After following all the processes that include public hearing, objection handling and consultation with the consumers and advisory bodies, a 7% hike was ordered by the regulatory body. Neither the TSECL nor the power department has any authority to make changes in the energy rates. Even after that, opposition CPI(M), which ruled the state for such a prolonged period of time, are heaping allegations upon us,” Nath told reporters.
Nath attributed the significant increase in gas prices in the global market as the primary factor. He stated that gas procurement costs rose from $2.90 (approximately Rs 238.32 per MMBtu) to $8.57 (equivalent to Rs 704.29) in 2022-23, marking a steep 196% increase in gas prices essential for thermal power production. Unlike states relying on hydropower or alternative energy sources Tripura’s gas-dependent energy production units face this challenge, he added.
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The power minister reassured consumers that despite the increase, they should not worry much as they can still take advantage of attractive rebate options. “The TERC has said that if consumers pay their bills within seven days of fresh bill generation, a flat 5% rebate will be given to the consumer. Technically for efficient consumers, the rise is 2% because he is getting a five percent rebate for paying the bills as early as possible. Even if this is going to impact the finances of the TSECL, the consumer will be at the receiving end of benefits,” he added.
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