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Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. v. JSW Steel Ltd.

Electricity Act, 2003 Captive consumers / captive users, who form a separate class other than the consumers defined under Section 2(15) of the Act, 2003, shall not be subjected to and/or liable to pay additional surcharge leviable under Section 42(4) of the Act, 2003.

The consumers defined under Section 2(15) and the captive consumers are different and distinct and they form a separate class by themselves. So far as captive consumers are concerned, they incur a huge expenditure/invest a huge amount for the purpose of construction, maintenance or operation of a captive generating plant and dedicated transmission lines. However, so far as the consumers defined under Section 2(15) are concerned, they as such are not to incur any expenditure and/or invest any amount at all. Therefore, if the appellant is held to be right in submitting that even the captive consumers, who are a separate class by themselves are subjected to levy of additional surcharge under Section 42(4), in that case, it will be discriminatory and it can be said that unequals are treated equally. Therefore, it is to be held that such captive consumers/captive users, who form a separate class other than the consumers defined under Section 2(15) of the Act, 2003, shall not be subjected to and/or liable to pay additional surcharge leviable under Section 42(4) of the Act, 2003. [Para 14]

Electricity Act, 2003 Ss. 9 & 42 Captive Generation Duties of distribution licensees and open access the captive generation / captive use is statutorily provided / available and for which a permission of the State Commission is not required.

So, the captive generation / captive use is statutorily provided / available and for which a permission of the State Commission is not required. The submission on behalf of the appellant that the captive generation under Section 9 is subject to the regulations as per first proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 9 and that even open access for the purpose of carrying electricity from his captive generating plant to the destination of his use shall be subject to availability of the adequate transmission facility determined by the Central Transmission Utility or the State Transmission Utility, as the case may be, sub-section (4) of Section 42 shall be applicable and such captive users are liable to pay the additional surcharge leviable under sub-section (4) of section 42, has no substance and has to be rejected outright. Construction and/or maintenance and operation of a captive generating plant and dedicated transmission lines is not subjected to any permission by the State Commission. As provided under Section 9 of the Act, 2003, any person may construct, maintain or operate a captive generating plant and dedicated transmission lines. Merely because the supply of electricity from the captive generating plant through the grid shall be regulated in the same manner as the generating station of a generating company or the open access for the purpose of carrying electricity from the captive generating plant to the destination of his use shall be subject to availability of the adequate transmission facility determined by the Central Transmission Utility or the State Transmission Utility, it cannot be said that for captive generation plant, the State Commission’s permission is required. Right to open access to transmit/carry electricity to the captive user is granted by the Act, and is not subject to and does not require the Sate Commission’s permission. The right is conditioned by availability of transmission facility, which aspect can be determined by the Central or State transmission utility. Only in case of dispute, the State Commission may adjudicate. [Para 9]

Whether the captive consumers / captive users are liable to pay the additional surcharge leviable under Section 42(4) of the Electricity Act, 2003 ?

Sub-section (4) of Section 42 shall be applicable only in a case where the State Commission permits a consumer or class of consumers to receive supply of electricity from a person other than the distribution licensee of his area of supply and only such consumer shall be liable to pay additional surcharge on the charges of wheeling, as may be specified by the State Commission. Captive user requires no such permission, as he has statutory right. At this stage, it is required to be noted that as per the Scheme of the Act, there can be two classes of consumers, (i) the ordinary consumer or class of consumers who is supplied with electricity for his own use by a distribution licensee / licensee and; (ii) captive consumers, who are permitted to generate for their own use as per Section 9 of the Act, 2003.

Ordinarily, a consumer or class of consumers has to receive supply of electricity from the distribution licensee of his area of supply. However, with the permission of the State Commission such a consumer or class of consumers may receive supply of electricity from the person other than the distribution licensee of his area of supply, however, subject to payment of additional surcharge on the charges of wheeling as may be specified by the State Commission to meet the fixed cost of such distribution licensee arising out of his obligation to supply. There is a logic behind the levy of additional surcharge on the charges of wheeling in such a situation and/or eventuality, because the distribution licensee has already incurred the expenditure, entered into purchase agreements and has invested the money for supply of electricity to the consumers or class of consumers of the area of his supply for which the distribution license is issued. Therefore, if a consumer or class of consumers want to receive the supply of electricity from a person other than the distribution licensee of his area of supply, he has to compensate for the fixed cost and expenses of such distribution licensee arising out of his obligation to supply. Therefore, the levy of additional surcharge under sub-section (4) of Section 42 can be said to be justified and can be imposed and also can be said to be compensatory in nature.

However, as observed hereinabove, sub-section (4) of Section 42 shall be applicable only in a case where the State Commission permits a consumer or class of consumers to receive supply of electricity from a person other than the person – distribution licensee of his area of supply. So far as captive consumers/captive users are concerned, no such permission of the State Commission is required and by operation of law namely Section 9 captive generation and distribution to captive users is permitted. Therefore, so far as the captive consumers / captive users are concerned, they are not liable to pay the additional surcharge under Section 42(4) of the Act, 2003. In the case of the captive consumers/captive users, they have also to incur the expenditure and/or invest the money for constructing, maintaining or operating a captive generating plant and dedicated transmission lines. Therefore, as such the Appellate Tribunal has rightly held that so far as the captive consumers/captive users are concerned, the additional surcharge under sub-section (4) of Section 42 of the Act, 2003 shall not be leviable. [Paras 12 & 13]