The Ministry of Power has announced that it has drafted rules providing for the Rights of Electricity Consumers for the very first time.
The Ministry of Power has announced that it has drafted rules providing for the Rights of Electricity Consumers for the very first time. In its notification, the ministry claims the electricity consumers are the most important stakeholders in the power sector, the sector exists because of them.
“Having provided access to electricity to all citizens, it is now important to focus on consumer satisfaction. For this, it is imperative to identify the key services, prescribe minimum service levels and standards with respect to these services and recognise them as rights of consumers,” the ministry issued in a statement.
The main feature of the draft regulation are:
• Recognition to the emerging category of consumers known as “Prosumers”. Persons who are consumers and have also set up rooftop solar units or solarised their irrigation pumps. They will have the right to produce electricity for self-use and inject excess in the grid using the same point of the connection up to limits prescribed by the SERC.
• Reliability of service: State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) to fix the average number and duration of outages per consumer per year for Discoms.
• Timely and simplified procedure for connection: Only two documents for connection up to load of 10 kW and no estimation of demand charges for loads up to 150 kW to expedite giving connection.
• Time period of not more than 7 days in metro cities, 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas, to provide new connection and modify existing connection.
• 2 to 5 percent rebate on serving bills with a delay of sixty days or more.
• Option to pay bills in cash, cheque, debit cards, net banking, etc but bills of Rs 1000 or more to be paid online.
• Provisions related to disconnection, reconnection, meter replacement, billing, payment, etc.
• Compensation/ penalties for delay in service by Discoms; compensation to be automatic as far as possible, to be passed on in the bill.
• 24×7 toll-free call centre, web-based and mobile applications for common services like new connection, disconnection, reconnection, shifting of connection, change in name and particulars, load change, replacement of meter, no supply, etc with facilities for SMS /email alerts, online status tracking and auto-escalation.
• Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum with 2-3 representatives of consumers at various levels starting from Sub-division for ease of consumer grievance redressal.
The draft rules have been circulated by the Ministry of Power for comments/ views/ suggestions from consumers latest by September 30, 2020. After this, the suggestions will be evaluated and the final rules issued.