TogetherVCAN’s SOCIAL SANCHAR with SHRI Vijay L. Sonavane

December 22, 2014 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

This programme has helped in making the Government and Citizens interaction much simpler and convenient. It has also played a very important role in bringing to light the various issues and problems faced by the consumer and to arrive at solutions. The first Social Sanchar was held on 27th November, 2014 with Dr. B. K. Upadhyay, Joint Commissioner of Police, Traffic, addressing the issues related to Mumbai Traffic.

Our recent Social Sanchar was with Mr. Vijay L. Sonavane, Advisor to Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), on 22nd December 2014.

Mumbai is the only city with multiple Power Utility Suppliers and therefore there are overlapping areas, which brings in a unique set of challenges. Hence we chose the issues related to Electricity to be addressed by MERC and get the right standpoint. As a Regulatory Body, MERC has to strike a fine balance between the consumers, suppliers and contractors.

Mr. Sonavane spoke at length on the various issues related to the supply, distribution, costs of electricity supply in the State as well as Tariff determination process and the need for Energy Conservation.

He touched upon;

  • Salient features of the Indian Power System, Challenges in the Indian Power Sector as well as Power Systems in Mumbai: Generation, Transmission & Distribution and the peculiarities 
    • Overview of tariff procedures and consumer’s participation in tariff process and Retail tariff for Mumbai Licensees and Why we do not have Uniform tariff in Mumbai
    • Roles & Responsibilities of  Distribution Companies as well as Roles and responsibilities of the Regulatory Commission
    • What are the plans to meet rising demand in Next 10 Years? Generation/Transmission & Distribution
    • Steps taken by MERC to promote Energy Conservation/ Demand Side Management (DSM) and the schemes  and why it is important in Mumbai
    • Is the competition in retail in Mumbai really helpful for Mumbai Consumers
    • Vision for Mumbai Distribution Systems

In Mr. Sonavane’s talk, some interesting facts about Energy Usage emerged;

In Homes:

  •  23% of energy for cooling, 29% to lighting,
  • 12% to heating water,  36% to other appliances

In office buildings:

  •  34%  goes towards cooling,, 29% to lighting,
  • 9% to heating water,  28% to office equipment, ventilation & other misc. uses.

A three legged stool”

  • Energy Conservation: Use Less
  • Improve Energy Efficiency : Use Technology & “do more with Less”
  • Renewable Resources: Invest in Future

Mr. Sonavane elaborated the MERC Vision for Mumbai keeping in mind the challenges etc.

  • Mumbai has a demand of approx.. 3400 MW & growing at 3-4% per annum. More than generation, it is the transmission capacity to bring in power to the city, that has become critical
  • A greater push is required for encouraging Solar Roof Top generation, as it would not only be environment friendly, but will also reduce the burden on transmission
  • In absence of space for new substations, BMC need to work with utilities for underground substations and public parks could be utilized for the same
    • With the recent Appellate Tribunal order, Tata Power will be allowed to use Reliance Infra network. This will bring implementation of carrier, content separation in Mumbai ahead of other places, as also proposed in the Electricity Act  Amendment Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on the 19thDec 2014.
  • BEST being Local Authority, is exempted from obligation of offering its network on OA. Though in the proposed amendments, this provision is likely to be dropped. But, as long as transport subsidy is built in the tariff, Consumers using BEST’s network will also contribute towards it through various surcharges.
  • The proposed Amendments also require the Commissions to promote Smart grid & Ancillary services. This would go a long way to promote decentralized Renewal Energy generation.

Proposed Amendment also allows Govt. to direct licensees to include in their electricity bill, other dues of the Govt.

Thereafter, there was a lively interaction by the audience present as well as the online audience and couple of question raised, are shared.

Q. We switched over from reliance to TATA a year ago. Since then MERC has put additional charges. Customers like us who are on TATA are also paying to reliance. Should we switch back?

Ans. No, you should not switch back. You should wait till next year. Every year we decide the tariff. So, these go on varying.

Q.  Why does one have to pay for loss incurred by the BEST?

Ans. You are right on your part. I will talk to the BEST officials and try to resolve it.

Q. I want to transfer my meter but suddenly the BEST says Rs 17800 are pending since 1998. Please tell me what to do?

Ans. It can go to the consumer redressal forum as it is a long pending issue.

To view the photos of the TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar, click here.

To view the video of the TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar, click here.