The Supreme Court on Wednesday restrained Delhi utilities from disconnecting electricity supplies to the Anil Ambani-controlled BSES firms that distribute power in the Capital, as it asked them to maintain status quo till it decided the regulatory assets issue, which is pending before it for the last nine years.
State-run power generation companies Indraprastha Power Generation Company (IPGCL) and Pragati Power Corporation (PPCL) had earlier this month issued notices to BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd (BRPL) and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL), asking them to clear electricity dues of Rs 21,268.78 crore payable since January 2014, failing which their power supplies will be “regulated.”
A Bench led by Justice SA Nazeer, while seeking response from IPGCL, PPCL and the Delhi government, asked the parties to maintain status quo till the next date of hearing on November 13.
The order was passed on a fresh application filed by BSES firms, seeking a direction to IPGCL, PPCL and the Delhi government to act in accordance with the SC’s earlier orders and not take any coercive steps against them, including regulation of power supply/action under the LPSC Rules, 2022 till disposal of their related petitions. The top court had by its two orders – March 26, 2014 and May 12, 2016 – granted protection to the discoms against any coercive action.
BRPL told the apex court that the total amount due and yet to be recovered, as approved by the DERC, is to the tune of
4,189 crore (towards regulatory asset up to FY 2019-20) plus13,019 crore (on account of non-implementation of Aptel’s judgments in their favour). “As against the same, as on March 31, 2022, as per the BRPL’s financial books, payable by it to the Delhi utilities is Rs 7,497.44 crore (trade payables) plus Rs 3,894.95 crore (contingent liability). In case the above amount due to the applicant (BRPL) was allowed by the DERC in a timely manner, there would not have been delay in making payments to Delhi utilities,” the application stated.
According to the discoms, the difficulties faced by them in making timely payments to suppliers is due to the regulatory inactions, polices and failure on part of the DERC. These difficulties faced by them have nothing to do with the efficiency of their management and were beyond their control and not attributable to them, they added.
Any regulation of power supply to them would lead to power disruptions and blackout in the NCT of Delhi in case of withdrawal of short-term open access or regulation of power, which will seriously jeopardise the energy security scenario in the Capital, BSES senior counsel Kapil Sibal and Dhruv Mehta argued.
Besides posing a threat to grid security in the NCT of Delhi, they further added that any disconnection of electricity supply will also prejudice the livelihood and interest of approximately 11 million consumers which were being supplied electricity, especially considering the fact that over 56% of peak demand of 3,388 MW of BRPL was met through short-term open access and the power supplied by IPGCL and PPCL.
While senior counsel Rahul Mehra appeared for the Delhi government, senior counsel Wasim Qadri represented one of the Delhi utilities.
BYPL and BRPL have also differences with regulator over the liquidation of regulatory assets proposed by DERC. This is the amount due to discoms by the state government for keeping electricity tariff lower by deferring cost/revenue associated with the asset, the issue which is pending before the SC.
The BSES counsel argued that there was no occasion for seeking payment security mechanism for 70% current dues being paid by BSES discoms since the Delhi government had been paying the subsidy amount. Without prejudice, BSES discoms had offered settlement plans to Delhi utilities on various occasions by proposing that the rate of LPSC levied by the utilities on delayed payments (which are not attributable to BSES discoms and are on account of the regulatory interdict) be aligned with the carrying cost allowed by the DERC to BSES firms on regulatory asset, Mehta told the SC.
BSES discoms had last month also pursued bona fide efforts for a one-time settlement under the aegis of DERC, but both IPGCL and PPCL had taken a categorical stand that they do not wish to even sit for any settlement talks with BSES discoms, the application stated.
BSES firms have asked the Delhi utilities to demonstrate basis of their alleged outstanding dues of `21,268.21 crore as the latter had not raised bills for LPSC since 2015; not adjusted LPSC amount as non-tariff income in their ARR filings in FY 2017-21 to be passed on to consumers; adjusted all payments made by the discoms against principal dues in their books of accounts from 2015 onwards; and not given computation in their financial statements/claims.