Nepra orders inquiry into Discos operations over tariff hike

Don’t expect us to be working as a rubber stamp, Nepra chief notes

ISLAMABAD   -   Furious over abnormal hike of Rs7.13/unit on account of monthly Fuel Charges Adjust­ment (FCA), despite no change fuel cost or value of Pakistani rupee, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has ordered an inqui­ry into the operations of Power Distribution Companies (DIS­COs) and warned officials of power sector not to consider the authority a rubber stamp for passing on unjustified bur­den to the consumers.

“Don’t expect us to be work­ing as a rubber stamp and will pass on to the consumers what you bring here,” NEPRA Chair­man Waseem Mukhtar noted during a hearing conducted on the Central Power Purchas­ing Agency (CCPA-G) for hike of Rs7.13 per unit in electric­ity tariff on account of Fuel Price Adjustments for January 2024. Underscoring NEPRA’s commitment to accountability, chairman NEPRA announced a comprehensive investiga­tion into DISCOs’ operations under the 27A of the NEPRA Act. In a petition submitted to National Electric Power Regu­latory Authority, on behalf of Ex-Wapda DISCOs (XWDiscos), the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) said that the reference fuel charged from the consumers during January was Rs7.4824 per unit, while the cost of the energy delivered to DISCOs was Rs14.6202 per unit, and requested an increase of Rs7.1308 per unit over the reference charges on account of FCA for the month of January.

Apparently seemed upset, during the hearing, over such a big demand of tariff hike on ac­count of FCA, NEPRA Chairman Waseem Mukhtar, alongwith members Rafique Ahmad Shai­kh and Engineer Maqsood An­war Khan scrutinised the Cen­tral Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA)’s petition and ordered an inquiry into the operations of DISCOs. The authority has completed hearing on the peti­tion of CPPA-G, filed on behalf of DISCOs, for an increase of Rs7.13 per unit, however, will announce the decision later af­ter completion of inquiry. 

“There should no further in­crease on the account of fuel price adjustment as there is no change dollar exchange rate or fuel prices in international mar­ket,” NEPRA chairman said and added that give the authority a breathing space as they are tired now. Coming hard on both the power division and the DIS­COs, chairman NEPRA said that they should straighten things out and should not punish the public for their incompetence.

The regulator inquiries re­vealed discrepancies in load-shedding patterns across dif­ferent regions despite claims of low power demand, prompting skepticism towards the authen­ticity of the proposed adjust­ments. The authority highlighted a backlog of pending power con­nections, equivalent to 550 MW, and criticised the inability of DIS­COs to substantiate their claims during previous hearings. It was informed that there are 160,000 pending connections in DISCOs. 

It was further informed that due to transmission system con­straints and stability concerns, DISCOs are also seeking to im­pose a burden of Rs26.7 billion on consumers, citing transmis­sion system stability issues. Rafique Ahmad Shaikh ques­tioned the petitioner about the substantial claim, particularly, re­garding the persistent challenges in the South-North transmission corridor over several years. The petitioner clarified that the issue stemmed from system stability rather than constraints. The NE­PRA chairman said that the ongo­ing situation demands urgent at­tention and a proactive approach from the government, economy, and the power sector and urged the Power Division to devise ef­fective strategies to mitigate the prevailing challenges.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt