Common electricity tariff hike in Chennai irks residents

Residents of many small and medium-sized apartments have seen a steep increase in common area charges following the hike.

“Nobody wants to pay the common electricity bill this time. It is Rs. 500 per household now. Earlier, it hardly used to cross Rs. 150 per household,” says G Varsha, a resident of KK Nagar.

She lives in an apartment with seven units. “We are shocked at the common EB bill and are hoping that they will reduce it soon hearing public demands.” Her apartment has common lights, and a water motor as part of the common electrical connection.

With Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) raising the EB tariff for almost all sectors in September 2022, we look at how common areas of apartments are dealing with the hike.

Read more: How to keep the electricity bill of your Chennai home in check

What is the current common electricity tariff?

common eb tariff rate
Irrespective of the size of the apartment, the common electricity tariff stands at Rs. 8 per unit. Source: TANGEDCO

Before September 2022, the common area electricity connections for smaller apartments used to be charged at the domestic level, with the first 100 units being free. The current tariff does not account for the free 100 units.

“A lot of free electricity services for common areas in apartments would be spent within the first 100-unit slab. Because of this, TANGEDCO suffered huge losses,” says a TNEB official, who did not wish to be named.

Bigger apartments with hundreds of units, with sewage and treatment plants, clubhouses, gyms and swimming pools among other amenities already used to pay Rs. 8.05 per unit, which was the commercial electrical charge for the common areas. Now, all multi-storeyed buildings, big or small, have to pay Rs. 8 per unit for common areas.

“We do not have much change in our common electricity bill,” says Rajendran, a resident of a large apartment with the above-stated amenities in Saligramam.

“The tariff hike was decided by TNERC after proper public consultations,” says the official.

However, there was some pushback against the electricity tariff hike in the public consultation held in Chennai in August 2022.

“If people have complaints, then they can write to TNERC. After consultation with the government, the tariff could be revised,” explains the official.

“If the multi-storeyed buildings consist of two portions where families live, then they can try to surrender the common electricity meter, and they can use the individual houses’ domestic meters,” says the TNEB official.

Resident letter to electricity board to revise electricity tariff
Revised charges for apartments. Pic: L Sundararaman

As per the official, the reason for the EB tariff hike is that it has not been increased for the last eight years, and TANGEDCO is suffering a loss of Rs. 1,13,266 crore, as of March 2021. The Union Power Ministry has asked the states to revise power tariffs to be able to borrow more.

How have people been dealing with the rise in the common electricity bill?

SV Radhakrishnan, a resident of a small apartment with 15 units in Rangarajapuram, used to pay around Rs. 800 for common electricity. After the hike, the apartment is paying Rs. 3240. “It has increased by four times.”

Residents of a small apartment in Kolathur, who have been living there for rent, say that their house owners have asked them to not have guests overnight because they may use the water supply more, which could increase the common electricity usage.

“There is a general notion that people living in apartments are well-to-do, and they pay more for EB. However, it could reduce other ways of spending maintenance money- like people may deny rising the wages of service employees in the apartments,” notes Vandana, adding that the employees may spend more than half a day to make lives in apartments easy in Chennai.

TANGEDCO must have removed the free 100-unit slab while revising the common electricity tariff, remarks Radhakrishnan. “But charging Rs. 8 per unit for common connections is not justified. Common EB should cost Rs. 4.50 per unit for the first 400 units, as the domestic charges for individual houses. After all, common electricity is not for commercial purposes but only for the benefit of the residents. This is because Chennai has a lot of small and medium-sized apartments compared to the number of gated communities, as of today.”

Read more: Surprised by your electricity bill this month? Here’s what TNEB says

“It is definitely a huge hike for small apartment residents. If TNERC was considering hikes, then they could have raised the prices gradually,” says Bharath Ram, a researcher with Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG).

Curbing common electricity wastage will help

“Many flat associations have hiked the maintenance charges in apartments in the city,” says Vandana Vishwanath, a resident of a large apartment with around 570 households from Nolambur. Although she might be paying around the same amount per unit, she is worried about common electricity wastage that might add to the bill.

“Using electricity for amenities is fine. But, I am concerned about the electricity wastage. For instance, there might not be anyone in the gym, but the appliances are running. Then, there are the common restrooms that are lit when not in use,” lists Vandana. “Some service employees seem to switch on all the appliances because they are not aware of the right switches for every appliance [in the common area].”

She also talks about an LCD display board near lifts that plays advertisements, around the clock. “It runs even at midnight when there is no footfall in the common area. If there is movement in the lobby, then the display can be switched on.”

Other gated community residents have noticed personal electric vehicles being charged in common areas. “The EV charging portals goes to the domestic meters, and does not affect common electricity usage,” says Muralidharan, the secretary of VGN Minerva Owners’ Welfare Association.

Going solar can reduce common EB bills

“If we have solar panels as per the rules, our common lighting will be powered by solar. But our apartment builder set up a very small unit of solar to get the completion certificate from CMDA. Now, we are asking the builder to install solar panels for one-third of the terrace area,” says a resident of a large apartment with more than 300 units in Alandur.

According to the Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rules 2019, one-third of the terrace area of multi-floored complexes must have solar panels to get a completion certificate.

Muralidharan also says that their apartment is going to install solar panels soon for common appliances.

Pushing for solar panels to cover common area electrical appliances is not only financially beneficial but also good for the environment in the long run.

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  1. Hooman Being says:

    Common meter for multistorey buildings are charged not only ₹8/- per unit but also ₹200/- fixed charges per KVA. Example our common meter consumption charges comes to approx. ₹400/- + ₹400/- for the 2 KVA TANGEDCO has rated the connection at. If there’s a lift in the building the KVA rating with be higher and will be charged at the rate of ₹200/- per KVA.

  2. Vijaykumar says:

    Yes, the inclusion of residences in common meter tariff is unjustified. It is an ill thought out scheme. A general increase in EB tariff would not have been opposed. Officials may give reasons but they are all unjustified.

  3. Venkatesan S says:

    Madam, Pl suggest to TNEB to allot 100 free units of each flat to common meter and then charge a fixed rate between Rs.4 to Rs.8 based on excess consumption in common meters. This way all will benefit which will be a reasonable one. This is to be viewed as TNEB will increase tariff annually as proposed.

  4. Arumugam says:

    Yes this is ridiculous. Govt is looting directly from the middle class in the name of loss to govt…. Common usage is not for commercial purposes..

  5. Jagath says:

    Flats with 2 floors is also clubbed with higher floors, does this government has any common sense

  6. mnarasimhan says:

    dear sir.a one ground plot developed into 4 dwellings which has one sump for essential corporation water drawing where a bore well even though it is not coming under essential services Tobe given to but a choice of favour when govt.stops corporation fetch water or due to water shortage reservoir empty for supplying will they reduce water tax for the days months if noted state govt.refuse.when registration department mention in Sale deed as for residential purposes how can the govt.make it as commercial building by increasing meter fares in kva that too double rent is a question?when catogarily mentioned as domestic for how tneb can make it commercial when the dwellings has no shops signboards or offices is also a question?while govt.encourages to high rise building for smooth sailing of the population under domestic which only lies for living as 2.3.or 4 bedrooms conversions with either covered or open car parkings is it fair to raise meter charges for those pigeons net like housings?for one ground plot conversions to 4 and completion certificate endorses purely Residencial occupation then how it is termed as commercial by way increasing s.o.p and meter charges with horrible high amounts is the last question?please if solar uses conditioned for each house this could be solved!

  7. Lakshminarasimhan says:

    This is the resulr of having elected a corrupt, inefficient, vidiaa govt. in Tamizhagam.

  8. R R says:

    Before commenting on this issue, everyone should realise wastage of energy at common usage. But, one thing is;
    1) there should be proper identification on Multi-storied building and number unit residents in a building and based on this Rs 8/- to all is irrational. However TANGEDCO should look back proper charging

  9. C.R.Nitiyaananthan says:

    Govt doing daylight Robber in way of grabbing Money by exhorbitant rates in taxes for property,CMWSSB,EB TARIFF, under the verdict of government aided organization is incurring huge loss every year,no streets lights in many streets around the city, corporation maintenance roads is very dilapidated condition possible for accidents and posing dangers to human life’s,along with drunk and drive due to operative of renowned TASMAC each and every streets posing health hazards for citizens and ruining many families from sleeping cats in their kitchen stoves and tearing of bloods from the eyelids of many families housewife due to liquor shop

  10. g.jeeva says:

    charging rupees 8 or even 10 is ok. but should do away with fixed changes.
    some small flat or house with portions using 40 units will have to pay 40×8=320 rupees only, which is reasonable. now they are adding compulsory 400 rupees fixed changes (they always assume 2Kva or more they do not give 1 kva). now with fixed changes we pay 720 rupees for 40 units .. not fair.

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