Escoms bleed in powering up layouts

Costs incurred

Seeking to put an end to losses of crores of rupees in laying electricity lines for houses in new "unauthorised" layouts, electricity supply companies (escoms) have sought to hike the charges by up to 10 times for providing such connections. 

In documents submitted to the Karnataka Energy Regulatory Authority (KERC), the escoms have said that the fee levied on recovery of costs from developers/house owners has remained the same for the last 13 years whereas the cost of the materials has shot up multifold.

As per the rules, layout developers have to lay the electricity lines/plant in the property. However, when the developer abandons the work midway, escoms are made to lay the line. The KERC had fixed the rates for recovery of expenditure from such developers/house owners. However, the fee has remained the same since 2006 even as the cost has skyrocketed.

For its part, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) calculated the rates based on the cost incurred in providing connectivity to Arkavathy Layout. "As per the schedule of rates 2017-18, the cost of electric line/plant incurred for a site dimension of 1,200 square feet works out to Rs 51,000-Rs 1,20,000 (depending on the area)," it said, submitting that the company has spent Rs 2.91 crore for providing connectivity to 228 sites in the layout.

Even in rural areas, Bescom spends a similar amount of money to provide connectivity to a 30X40 site, which is considered as a 3KW connection. The problem is rampant in areas that were recently added to BBMP limits.

Bescom, however, collects only Rs 12,000 per site or house from layout/house owners in BDA/BBMP limits. The fee goes down further in rural areas. "We are facing crores of rupees of loss because of unruly developers who do not follow rules," an official in the technical division said.

"The existing procedure and regulation are in favour of those who abandon the project without developing infrastructure. It is encouraging non-compliers (while) burdening the escoms and hence the principle of recovery of expenditure of KERC... is vitiated," the escom complained, seeking amendments.

Escoms from Mysuru, Hubballi and Mangaluru have placed similar complaints before the KERC. The commission has issued a draft notification doubling the existing charges. However, as the Bescom official pointed out, the charges do not cover even half of the expenditure incurred by escoms.

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