Utilities not submitting tariff petitions despite requests
*Regulations yet to be framed, posts creation pending
JAMMU, Nov 25: Constituted more than one year back for regulation of power sector in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh and effective implementation of vital provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003, the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) has failed to do any substantial work till date. Moreover, the power sector utilities in both the Union Territories are not taking seriously the repeated requests of the Commission for submission of tariff petitions.
Following winding up of Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission after repeal of J&K Electricity Act, 2010 as per the provisions of the Reorganization Act, 2019, the Union Ministry of Power vide Notification SO 1984(E) dated June 18, 2020 constituted Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission for both the Union Territories and the same started functioning with effect from August 28, 2020.
The Commission is a statutory body with quasi-judicial status constituted under the first proviso of Section 83 of the Electricity Act, 2003 and is responsible for regulation of the power sector in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
However, despite the lapse of more than one year the Commission has failed to do any substantial work for the reasons best known to its Chairman and Members, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “till date the Commission has only adopted regulations of JERC for Goa and UTs for regulating the work of different power utilities in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh but exercise to notify its own regulations after following the due process has yet not picked up the pace”.
“The consultant for preparation of regulations and finalization of tariff orders was engaged by the Commission only in the recent past but paper work is going on at a snail’s pace that too only with regard to regulations”, sources informed, adding “though the Commission has made repeated requests to the power utilities in both the Union Territories for filing of tariff petitions yet the same have not evoked positive response for the reasons best known to those at the helm of affairs in these utilities”.
Further, the request of the Commission for creation of more than 20 posts to ensure its effective functioning has not been taken seriously by the Union Power Ministry where the file is pending for decision since long, they further informed.
Interestingly, the website of the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission doesn’t have any information for the public. Though there is a mention of Electricity Act, 2003, Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, 1998, Indian Electricity Act, 1910 and Energy Conservation Act, 2001 yet details are not available. Similarly, there is mention of Tariff Policy 2016, Tariff Policy 2006 and Rural Electrification Policy but without any detail.
As per the website, there shall be Advisory Committee which shall consist of not more than twenty-one members to represent the interests of commerce, industry, transport, agriculture, labour, consumers, non-governmental organizations and academic and research bodies in the electricity sector.
The Advisory Committee is supposed to advise the Commission on major questions of policy, matters relating to quality, continuity and extent of service provided by the licenses, protection of consumer interests and electricity supply and overall standards of performance by utilities. However, till date the Advisory Committee has not been constituted although it has an important role to play.
Interestingly, the Commission has not received any public grievance till date and this can be gauged from the website where it has been mentioned “to be uploaded as and when received”. This clearly indicates that either people in both the UTs don’t have any grievance relating to power sector or they don’t have any information about the platform for projection of problems.
EXCELSIOR tried to contact Chairman and Members of the Commission to ascertain the difficulties in its functioning but there was no response to the repeated telephonic calls.
It is pertinent to mention here that the mandate of the Commission is to determine the tariff for generation, supply, transmission and wheeling of electricity, wholesale, bulk, grid or retail as the case may be, within the UTs of J&K and Ladakh; regulate electricity purchase and procurement process of distribution licensees including the price at which electricity shall be procured from the generating companies or licensees or from other sources through agreements for purchase of power for distribution and supply with the UTs; facilitate intra-UTs transmission and wheeling of electricity; issue licenses to persons seeking to act as transmission licensees, distribution licensees and electricity traders with respect to their operations within the UTs etc.