APTEL | Discom directed to refund tariff differences along with interest treating appellant as industrial consumer and not commercial consumer

Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL): A Division Bench of Ravindra Kumar Verma (Technical Member) and Justice R.K. Gauba (Judicial Member) allowed an appeal filed aggrieved by the order of the State Commission.

The Appellant was a generator maintaining and operating two units of coal-fired thermal generation plants. For purposes of setting up the said units, the construction work had started sometime in 2011. It had entered into an arrangement with the second Respondent (Discom) for supply of electricity for purposes of start-up. The Appellant was a consumer for start-up power for the period 01-09-2013 to 31-05-2015. By the billing raised for supply of such electricity in terms of the Supply Agreement dated 07-01-2013, the Respondent Discom treated it as a commercial consumer on the reasoning that it would fall in the residual category, referring in this context to the tariff schedule. The Appellant claimed parity with another similar entity viz. Adani Power Maharashtra Limited (APML), which had been treated as an industrial consumer for purpose of start-up power by the State Commission on 03-02-2014. These contentions were rejected by the State Commission, thus the instant appeal.

The Tribunal while allowing the appeal explained that creating an artificial compartment for purpose of the same consumer was inappropriate, the decision of the State Commission rendered in the case of APML brought about some clarity. The Respondent Discom, by applying the same principle as was decided upon in APML to the case of the similarly placed other consumers, particularly the Appellant, had actually acquiesced into the applicability of the said principle without any demur. The declaration of the category by the ruling of State Commission in case of APML by decision dated 03.02.2014 does not mean that it would have only a prospective effect. The consumer, in fact, stands categorised as an industrial consumer for purpose of start-up power for which liability began on 01-09-2013.

For the foregoing reasons, the Tribunal found the approach of the State Commission in the impugned order to be erroneous. The said order, to the extent thereby the benefit of categorization of an industrial consumer for the period 01.09.2013 to 02.09.2014 was declined, was set aside. The Respondent Discom will be obliged to revise and appropriately correct the accounts for the above mentioned period and refund the tariff difference to the Appellant along with interest in accordance with relevant tariff regulations. [Dhariwal Infrastructure Ltd. v. MERC, APL No. 363 OF 2018, decided on 27-02-2020]

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