Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced that electricity will be completely free for residents who consume up to 200 units of power every month, a move which he claimed would also result in reducing the increasing peak load of the national capital.
The announcement from Kejriwal comes ahead of the assembly elections in Delhi which are scheduled early next year.
Kejriwal further said that households consuming anything between 201 and 400 units per month will have to pay their electricity bill but approximately 50% of it will be subsidised by the government.
Delhi has at least 4.9 million domestic power consumers. According to the government, in August, around 35% consumers consume up to 200 units of electricity. But in winter, the share of this category goes up to 70%.
Calling it a “free lifeline electricity of 200 units”, the chief minister said the government is giving a “basic commitment” of power through this scheme, like it did in case of water, which is also free for residents who consume up to 20,000 litres a month.
The government subsidy applies to all domestic consumers subscribed to a sanctioned load of up to 5kW load. On Wednesday, releasing the new tariff order for the current fiscal, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had reduced the monthly fixed charges on power bills from Rs 125 to Rs 20 per kW for a sanctioned load of up to 2kW and from Rs 140 to Rs 50 for a load between 2kW and 5 kW.
Kejriwal said the extension of the subsidy was also a result of the latest tariff order issued by the power regulator apart from reduction in transmission and distribution losses.
“In 2013, for consumption of up to 200 units with a load of 2kW, people had to pay Rs 928, under the previous government. Under our government, till yesterday, people had to pay Rs 622. Now they will have to pay Rs 0. For consumption of 250 units with 2kW, before AAP government effected the subsidy, people had to pay Rs 1250. Till yesterday, people had to pay Rs 800. From today it will be Rs 252,” Kejriwal said in a press conference.
The chief minister said the amount that the Delhi government will have to bear for the restructured subsidy will be nearly the same as now. “The expenditure of Delhi government on this will be between Rs 1800 – Rs 2000 crore. There will not be any substantial increase. We have only restructured the subsidy a little,” Kejriwal said.
When asked about the timing of the announcement, he said, “It has been a journey which has taken its own time. We have worked hard over the years to ensure bill amounts go down, power companies are in better financial condition, power infrastructure is better and residents get round the clock power supply.”
The chief minister also said that electricity rates in Delhi are now the lowest across all states and cities in India.
In its 2019-20 order, the DERC kept the energy charges same for all categories, except for those who consume more than 1,200 units per month. A household whose electricity consumption crosses 1,200 units a month will have to pay 25 paise extra per unit from this month.
The 3.8% surcharge on power bills, however, which goes towards paying pension to former employees of power utilities, remained untouched. The regulatory surcharge too was retained at 8%.