Mumbai hoteliers irked over BEST’s ‘electricity wheeling charges’ for retail consumers

Mumbai, March 17 The Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) on Friday raised objections with the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) against the “wheeling charge” levied by the BEST Undertaking Ltd from all its 10 lakh power consumers.

AHAR President Sukesh Shetty and Legal Committee Chairman Guruprasad Shetty have said that as per a latest petition with MERC, the BEST proposes to hike the “wheeling charges” to Rs 2.26/unit for all consumers.

Accordingly, the charges would affect all retail consumers who consume just 100 units and will now have to shell out Rs 226 as wheeling charges to the BEST – which is illegal and violative of the Electricity Act and also the MERC regulations, said Guruprasad Shetty.

“Wheeling”, as per the Electricity Act, implies the “operation whereby the distribution system of a distribution licensee is used by another person for conveyance of electricity on payment of charge”.

The MERC Regulation, 2019, No. 32 defines it as “Distribution Wires Business” meaning the business of operating and maintaining a distribution system for wheeling of electricity in the area of supply of a distribution licensee.

Gurunath Shetty said that BEST – which supplies retail power to the entire south Mumbai – does not give “open access” to a third party to use its distribution network for conveyance of electricity, meaning it is not in the Distribution Wires Business.

He said that the BEST is charging its consumers under its retail supply business and again the wheeling charges under the distribution wires business, but this is not charges anywhere else in India.

Sukesh Shetty urged the MERC that the amounts collected by BEST as wheeling charges from its consumers in retail supply business should be maintained in an escrow account.

If the BEST action on wheeling charges is declared as illegal by MERC or the appellate authority or the Supreme Court, it can be refunded along with interest to all the retail consumers, he said.

The influential AHAR has over 8,000 hotels-restaurants as members in Mumbai and in adjoining districts and the wheeling charges would hit the consumers hard in and around Mumbai.

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