Time of Day (ToD) Tariff and rationalisation of smart meters is attack on Working class

 

Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee Correspondent

 

The capitalist class in its never-ending greed to maximise its profits has left no stone unturned to exploit the working class to the bone. One new addition to this ruthless pursuit is the introduction of Time of Day (ToD) Tariff and rationalization of smart meters by amending the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020.

As seen from the past experience of the working class, the capitalist class turns the truth over its head; this amendment is being touted as a win-win situation for consumers and power companies. It is claimed that it will be an avenue for the consumers to reduce their electricity bills and for power companies to use the resources efficiently. Nothing can be further away from the truth! Actually this amendment will cause the electricity bills for consumers including the poor ones to inflate.

Rather than being charged for electricity at the same rate at all times of the day, the price that consumers will pay for electricity will vary according to the time of day. Under the ToD Tariff system, Tariff during solar hours (duration of eight hours in a day as specified by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission) shall be 10%-20% less than the normal tariff, while the tariff during peak hours will be 10 to 20 percent higher. ToD tariff would be applicable for Commercial and Industrial consumers having maximum demand of 10 KW and above, from 1st April, 2024 and for all other consumers except agricultural consumers, latest from 1st April, 2025. Time of Day tariff shall be made effective immediately after installation of smart meters for the consumers with smart meters.

The following statement by the Union Power Minister is nothing but a sugar-coated bitter pill for the crores of urban poor and working people. “The ToD tariffs comprising separate tariffs for peak hours, Solar hours and normal hours, send price signals to consumers to manage their load according to the Tariff. With awareness and effective utilisation of ToD tariff mechanisms, consumers can reduce their electricity bills. Since solar power is cheaper, the tariff during the solar hours will be less, so the consumer benefits. During non-solar hours thermal and hydro power as well as gas based capacity is used – their costs are higher than that of solar power – this will be reflected in Time of Day Tariff. Now consumers can plan their consumption in order to reduce their power costs – planning more activities during solar hours when power costs are less.”

It is common knowledge that the majority of the working poor have to leave their house to earn their livelihood during the so called ‘solar hours’ when the tariff is low. The time when they really need to consume electricity is when they are at home, at night when they use lights and fans for sleeping and charge their gadgets. That is precisely the time when the ToD tariff will be high! It is as if the consumers are penalised for using the electricity when they really need it and are being treated as criminals for exercising their basic right. The words of the minister “Now consumers can plan their consumption in order to reduce their power costs – planning more activities during solar hours when power costs are less” do not make sense at all in this context.

In today’s day and age, like food, shelter and clothing electricity is a basic human need and it cannot be looked at as an avenue for making profit. It is the responsibility of the state to make it available to all at affordable prices. Instead of fulfilling its responsibility the state which is in fact in service of the capitalists is set to exploit the toilers of our country further and deprive them of their basic need.

The taxpayers’ money will be used to upgrade the infrastructure all over the country and install smart meters for all the existing connections and for new ones as well. We need to unite and fight against the ToD. In the first place we have to oppose the installation of smart meters! Otherwise ultimately the people will pay from their pockets or suffer the risk of surviving without electricity.

The need of the hour is for all the workers to come together cutting across any affiliations and unitedly oppose the draconian amendment. The long term aim is that of the Navnirman of the country where the working class with political power in its hands in alliance with the peasantry will ensure the fulfilment of the growing needs of the society and not the never ending capitals greed.

 

 

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