Amidst the promise of free electricity if elected, Aam Admi Party national spokesperson Raghav Chadha and the party’s Punjab president and a Member of Parliament, Bhagwant Mann, claimed on June 28 that Punjab charges the most for electricity in the country.
What leaders said
In a video posted on Twitter through the party’s official handle, Chadha said, “Punjab has surplus electricity.”
“The state produces its own electricity and yet the people of Punjab get electricity for the highest price in the country,” Chadha claimed.
He then drew a comparison between Delhi and Punjab. He said the people in the National Capital get free power despite the fact that Delhi does not even produce its own electricity.
In another video on the social media platform posted by AAP Punjab handle, Mann said, “Shiromani Akali Dal government signed agreements with private companies and private thermal plants and made electricity costly.”
“Captain Amarinder Singh-led government made it even more costly,” Mann said. “Now, the situation is such that in the entire country, power is most expensive in Punjab when the state produces electricity.”
But, a look at official data proves their claims wrong.
What data says
Considering the claims came before Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a press conference in Chandigarh on June 29 and promised free electricity for up to 300 units in households, FactChecker turned to Central Electricity Authority’s data on domestic power tariffs. According to the latest report by the authority, released in March 2019, Rajasthan and Maharashtra see the highest domestic power tariff in the country.
The data published in the Central Electricity Authority’s report, “Electricity Tariff & Duty and Average Rates of Electricity Supply in India”, shows the states that charge the maximum and minimum effective rates of electricity in the country and Punjab does not appear on it.
Power tariff for residences with a domestic power load of 1 kilowatt and consumption of under 100 units a month is most expensive in Rajasthan at Rs 7.38 per kilowatt-hour and if the load is 2 kW or higher and so is the consumption, it is dearest in Maharashtra under Reliance Energy and Tata Power.
While Reliance charges Rs 7.76/kWh for a load of 2 kW and usage of up to 200 units, Tata Power’s ask ranges between Rs 9.38/kWh to Rs 13.39/kWh for more than 200 units to up to 1,000 units on a load ranging from 4 kW to 10 kW.
Here is a comparison of the highest tariff, lowest tariff and the power rates in Punjab, according to the 2019 report:
The lowest power tariff in these categories is charged in Tamil Nadu and Daman and Diu.
When it comes to the average power purchase cost too, Punjab is not spotted on the top. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission recently worked out the average power purchase cost in all states and published it in March.
In the case of multiple utilities operating in a state, the average power purchase cost weighted by the power quantum of respective utilities was computed to derive the average power purchase cost for that state. According to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, the average power purchase cost for Andaman & Nicobar Islands is the highest at Rs 18.45 per unit and Odisha’s is the lowest at Rs 2.46 per unit. Punjab’s average power purchase cost was calculated at Rs 3.65 per unit.
FactChecker tried contacting Chadha, but the call was answered by his personal assistant, who identified himself as Himalaya and said he would ask Chadha to get back to us. We have also emailed and called MP Bhagwant Mann. At the time of publishing this story, we had not received a response from either of them. If and when we do, this story will be updated.
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission recently revised the tariff applicable from June 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022. It has been reduced by Re 1/kWh and 0.5/kWh for residential consumers with load up to 2 kW and consumption slabs of 0 to 100 units and 101 units to 300 units, respectively.
For those with a load between 2 kW and 7 kW and for consumption slabs of 0 to 100 units and from 101 to 300 units, the tariffs have been slashed by ₹0.75/kWh and ₹0.50/kWh.
It is still more expensive than Delhi. To compare, the tariff for a residence in Delhi with 2 kw load and consumption of up to 200 units is Rs 3 kWh and in Punjab residential consumers with load up to 2 kW and consumption slabs of 0 to 100 units and 101 units to 300 units have to pay Rs 3.49/kWh and Rs 5.84/kWh, respectively.
In Delhi, power is free for people consuming less than 200 units a month and those consuming between 201 units and 400 units are eligible to avail 50% subsidy from the government on their bills. On June 29, Kejriwal promised 300 units of free electricity to every household in Punjab if AAP is elected to power. “By doing this, around 77% to 80% people of Punjab will have zero electricity bill,” he said at a press conference in Chandigarh.
He also said they would waive off previous power bills and supply 24-hour electricity to every household in the state.
In Punjab’s last Assembly elections, AAP had promised 25 lakh jobs, Rs 5 meals, free WiFi, entrepreneurship schemes, old-age pensions and a drug-free state. But the party ended up with 20 seats when Congress bagged a whopping 77. The party used the same free power poll tactic in Goa too this year.
This article first appeared on FactChecker.in, a publication of the data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit IndiaSpend.
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