The Economic Times: Mangaluru: Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
septuagenarian’s fight against unfair tariff imposition by Escom has resulted in an amendment to a contentious clause in the KERC (Recovery of Expenditure for Supply of Electricity) Regulations 2004 Act. This clause talks about imposition of commercial power tariff rates for power used in common areas for a building with mixed power load if some conditions are not met.
This amendment, which has been brought about due to the efforts of James Victor D’Mello, 74, a former council member of the city corporation, is applicable to all such cases in Karnataka.
The 2004 Act had a clause which burdened building owners having both domestic and commercial loads. The clause states if the requisition load/ sanctioned commercial load (treating power load as commercial load) is 25% or less than the total combined load of the entire building irrespective of ownership, then it shall be considered as residential building for application of tariff for common area loads and for application of arranging power on HT basis.
D’Mello had his building completed in 2015 which had commercial space on the first and the next three floors for residential use. The power bill he received gave him a shock as the local power supplier Mescom had charged commercial rates stating that his use of commercial power was more than 25% of the total sanctioned.
When inquired with Mescom, the engineers told him they billed him as per Clause (3.1.1(A)) which states that commercial tariff would be levied for power consumed by common areas lighting, lift, power used by pumps etc, barring residential usage, if the consumer exceeded the 25% total sanctioned load.
Aggrieved with this anomaly, D’Mello wrote to KERC requesting amendment to the act in 2015 itself. His RTI query in June 2016 to KERC stated his request was put forth before the commission for amendment.
When KERC was in the city for the public hearing of Mescom’s tariff filings this month, D’Mello approached the chairman stating that his request was pending. To his surprise, the chairman informed the clause had been amended giving relief to all such cases in the state. The gazette notification was published on November 22, 2016. The act now reads: In case of mixed loads, if the common area loads such as lift, water pump, staircase/passage lights, etc. are exclusively for use by the consumers of residential load, then such installations feeding common area loads shall be billed under domestic tariff.
D’Mello said, "I had given up all hopes till I came to know that the act had been amended. I’m glad that KERC understood the anomaly and rectified it helping all consumers with the similar issue.