A senior official admitted yesterday the Government had little bargaining room with power companies in minimising the cost to consumers of excessive power generation. The Executive Council last week endorsed a plan to delay bringing on line units seven and eight of the Black Point power plant by a further two years to 2005 and 2006 respectively at a cost of $360 million because consumption of power was less than expected. A previous delay had already cost $592 million in payments to the supplier, bringing a total cost of $952 million. Under the Scheme of Control, utilities such as CLP Power can set charges to maintain a level of profit on net average fixed assets of 13.5 per cent. It means the more plants the company builds, the more it can charge. At the Legco economic services panel, two leading parties urged the Government not to allow the two delayed units to be calculated as part of the fixed assets before being brought into operation. Chan Kam-lam of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, called on the administration to ensure no extra tariffs were imposed on consumers. Secretary for Economic Services Stephen Ip Shu-kwan said the Government was in discussion with CLP Power but that there were limitations. 'We cannot tear up the contract. Our hands are tied,' he said. Betty Yuen So Siu-mai, CLP Power's director (finance and planning) said the $952 million payable to the supplier for the deferral of power plants would be counted as part of the value of fixed assets. She stressed tariffs were the lowest in Hong Kong. But Liberal Party legislator Kenneth Ting Woo-shou, representing the industrial sector, said the tariffs were still high compared with neighbouring countries. Democrat Cheung Man-kwong said the administration should follow the opinion of the Government's consultant that the two units would not be needed until 2008 and 2010. He suggested extra power should be sold to another power company, Hong Kong Electric.