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In a temporary relief to Delhi’s two Reliance Infra-owned discoms facing imminent suspension of their licences by the regulator under a state government directive, the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (Aptel) on Wednesday asked the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) to desist from passing any final orders on the matter without its leave during the pendency of a related case before it.
The Aptel order has posed a hurdle for the Arvind Kejriwal-led government which had on Monday sent a missive to the regulator asking it to be battle-ready for a possible suspension of the licences of the two discoms — BSES Yamuna Power and BSES Rajdhani Power — in case they, claiming financial difficulties, resort to long outages in large parts of the city.
State-run power generator NTPC had, on February 1, issued notices to the two Anil Ambani-owned distribution companies to cough up dues owed by them or face suspension of power supply.
For the capital’s 2.5 million consumers — the two firms supply power to three-fourths of the city’s 3.4 million consumers — tribunal order has only heightened the uncertainty. The prospect of 10-hour power cuts from February 10 continues to look real. With the state government firm on not allowing any tariff hike and in the absence of third-party protection audit with the state (under which many other states pay the suppliers of power under state allocation) the DERC has few options before it.
Reached for comments, DERC chairman PD Sudhakar told FE that the regulator was “examining the matter” and would hear all parties before taking a decision on the future course of action.
Wednesday's tribunal order came while it was hearing a plea from BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani, seeking time-bound faster liquidation of their mounting regulatory assets (deferred revenues) amounting to Rs 15,000 crore to recover past dues.
The Aptel has restrained DERC from passing any final order without taking a prior leave of the tribunal but has allowed it to proceed ahead with the hearing of the matter. For now, both discoms have been directed to appear before the Delhi power regulator on February 6, in respect of the February 3 letter sent by the Delhi government seeking licence suspension.
Aptel said in its order: “Having regard to the urgency of the matter, we deem it appropriate to direct the appellants to appear before the Delhi Commission on 6.2.2014 and make their submissions with regard to the letter