Power play in Mumbai: BMC feeling the heat of competition from Tata Power

Feb 19, 2016, 10:09 IST | Shashank Rao

The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) is feeling the heat of competition from Tata Power as they are banking on Members of Parliaments (MPs) to back them and talk out Tata from poaching their high end consumers. The BEST Undertaking claims that over the past several months now, many of their consumers have migrated to Tata Power.

On February 18, the BEST Committee members claimed that their big consumers who fetch them high monthly bills are migrating to Tata Power. “We need to talk to our MPs and tell them our situation. They need to intervene and if possible tell Tata Power that BEST being their consumer, such rampant poaching of consumers will force them to think of procuring power from other sources under open access,” said Suhas Samant, BEST Committee member from Shiv Sena.

The Undertaking claims that over the past several months their high-end consumers are moving. Sources agreed that there are less than 1000 consumers who have moved to Tata Power but then the Undertaking too needs to look into their services provided to their 10 lakh electricity consumers.

“Our consumers like ITC hotel, Global hospital and skyscrapers coming after redevelopment are being cherry picked by Tata Power. There is a need for forming a sub-committee to check the overall working of Supply division because of the mass migration of consumers to Tata Power,” said Ravi Raja, BEST Committee member.

The BEST administration claims that earlier similar situation had happened in the suburbs after which the regulatory body of MERC directed Tata Power to get consumers less than 300 units. Meanwhile few officials also feel that there is a need for competition as this shows the level of service provided by BEST.

“We cannot stop competition. We need to buckle up with the services given to consumers especially when they pay bills as high as Rs 8000 or more. The staff should be trained to respond to consumers plus we need to build better offices or pay centers,” said Kedar Hombalkar, BEST committee member from MNS.

At present Tata Power is cheaper than the BEST and Reliance Infra. And on the other hand the BEST Undertaking is facing losses to tune of crores of rupees. They are also cross subsidizing their Transport division with the Supply division by charging Transport Deficit Loss Ratio.

Tata responds
Tata Power is committed that it will acquire all kind of customers in BEST area, once it has the network in place. As of now NO customer acquisition is being pursued other than at locations where network is available & all category of customers around that are being pursued. At this stage, BEST is pointing out to ITC hotel that wants to move to Tata Power and is not wanting to reveal that Tata Power is acquiring customer & laying network in areas like Machi-mar nagar in Blackbay, Dharavi resettlement area, etc. which has residential customers that too with low consumption. While, Hotel is yet to shift; 57 of low-end residential customers have already shifted to Tata Power. Therefore, this is just a wrong publicity being done to distract attention from their own challenges.

Tata Power reiterates that the customers acquired in BEST area would be completely representative and in proportion to the existing BEST ratio of units consumed between Residential, Commercial and Industrial category of customers. BEST may thus focus on service aspects than indulging in incorrect alibis.

The APTEL has delivered judgments in three critical cases related to Mumbai Distribution business where they have ruled that there was no 'cherry picking' by Tata Power. This thus proves them to be mere allegations propounded and misused against Tata Power as a vested interest campaign by competitors. The Company feels vindicated against long-term malicious campaign of its competitors and hopes that the subject of cherry-picking and berry-giving is no more the language of business delivery and instead its Consumer-Affection.

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