Recently, all the Discom’s in Rajasthan simultaneously came out with circulars with changes to the open access mechanism. The pretext of making these changes was the recent letter from the Law Ministry on Open Access. As an example, the key changes made by the circular of the Ajmer Discom (See Comml. AJ-484) are mentioned below:

  • Those consumers that draw power from the Discom’s only in an emergency will be levied temporary tariff (50% higher than the normal applicable tariff)
  • They will have to inform the Discom’s 48 hours in advance of the intent to draw such power
  • The Discom will have no obligation to supply power to them
  • Those consumers that draw power from both the Discom and other sources will also have the 48 hour prior intimation requirement. Also, once the decide to draw power from a source other than the discom, they will have to do so for the entire 24 hour period. They will also have additional surcharges during peak hours.
  • To top it all, the Ajmer Discom gave 4 days to the industry to choose which option they would like to go with

These changes will obviously make the open access proposition a non-starter. The 48 hour prior notice requirement is a big hindrance. At the same time the 24 hour block provision will make the purchase of power from power exchanges un-viable. The higher tariff’s will hurt too.

To be fair to the Discom’s, the need for prior intimation is well appreciated – it will enable them to plan their power procurement better. However, there are better way to achieve that. As in every other case, its the intent of the Discom’s that wrong here as well. As a detailed article in the Business Standard recently mentioned, the requirement to have the Discom the supplier of last resort will be critical in making open access a reality.

As for the circulars, RERC has put a stay on them for the time being, after several industries applied for relief.