RK Singh: Energy Minister unveils rules to protect electricity consumers

NEW DELHI: Minister of Energy RK Singh on Monday released a set of rules aimed at guaranteeing the rights of electricity consumers, affirming that from now on the consumer is not “impotent”.
The rules provide for penalties for electricity distribution utilities (discos) for failing to maintain mandatory service standards under the Electricity Rules (Consumer Rights).
“Now the consumer is not helpless … (discoms) have to provide a service … if these (rules) are not followed, there will be penalties,” Singh told reporters at a virtual press briefing on the rules.
The government ministry has promulgated rules setting out consumer rights.
When issuing these rules, Singh said the rules would empower consumers of electricity.
“These rules emanate from the conviction that the power systems exist to serve consumers, and consumers have the right to quality, reliable electricity and services. Distribution companies across the country are monopolies – whether public or private – and the consumer has no other alternative – so it was necessary that the rights of consumers be defined in rules and that a system of enforcement of these rights be put in place, “he added.
The rules provide that it is the responsibility of each distribution licensee to supply electricity at the request of an owner or occupant of any premises in accordance with the provisions of the Electricity Act.
It is the consumer’s right to have minimum service standards for the supply of electricity from the distribution concessionaire, he said.
The rule also provides for transparent, simple and time-bound processes for releasing a new connection and modifying an existing connection. The rule provides that the applicant for connection to electricity has the possibility to apply online.
In addition, nightclubs should provide or modify an electrical connection within a maximum of seven days in metropolitan cities; 15 days in other municipalities and 30 days in rural areas.
The regulation also provides that no connection will be made without a meter and that it will be the smart prepayment meter or prepayment meter. This would be a provision to test meters as well as to replace defective, burnt or stolen meters.
The rules also provide for the transparency of tariffs and invoices applicable to consumers.
Under the rules, the consumer has the option of paying their bills online or offline. In addition, there would be a provision for the prepayment of invoices.
To ensure reliable supply, the rules state that nightclubs must provide 24/7 power to all consumers.
However, the Commission (power regulator) can specify lower supply hours for certain categories of consumers such as agriculture.
Discoms is also mandated to put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools where possible, to monitor and restore failures.
There would be a new category of consumers who would also produce electricity (prosumer). The rules state that prosumers will retain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer, they will also have the right to set up a renewable energy (RE) production unit, including solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. ) on the roof – either by itself or by a service provider.
The rules provide for net metering for loads up to 10 kW and gross metering for loads greater than 10 kW.
These rules also provide for the commission (power regulator) to notify performance standards for distribution concessionaires.
The amount of compensation would be paid to consumers by the nightclubs for violating performance standards.
Automatic compensation is paid to consumers for whom performance standard parameters can be monitored remotely.
The performance standards for which the compensation must be paid by the dcoms do not include any supply to a consumer beyond a particular period which would be specified by the commission (regulator).
Nightclubs should pay compensation for the number of supply interruptions beyond limits.
The performance of the discos would be monitored on the basis of the time required for connection, disconnection, reconnection, shifting; consumer category change time, load; the time required to modify consumer data; time to replace defective meters; timeframe within which invoices must be served, timeframe for resolving voltage complaints; and complaints related to the invoice.
The dcoms will pay a penalty to the consumer for violating the delivery times of the services set by the commission.
Discoms should set up a centralized 24/7 call center and strive to provide all services through a common customer relationship management (CRM) system to achieve a unified view.
There is the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) which would include consumer representatives and prosumers.
Under the rules, the resolution of consumer grievances has been made easier by making it multi-tiered, and the number of consumer representatives has increased from one to four.
The incumbent should specify the time frame within which the various types of grievances from the different levels of the forums are to be resolved.
A maximum period of 45 days is specified for the resolution of grievances under the rules.
The rules provide for the use of online access to various services such as submission of the request, monitoring of the status of the request, payment of bills, status of complaints filed, etc., to consumers. through its website, web portal, mobile app and its various offices designated by zone.
The discoms will provide all the services such as submitting claims, paying bills etc. to the elderly at their doorstep.
Details of scheduled power outages should be communicated to consumers.
In the event of a breakdown or unforeseen breakdown, immediate information will be given to consumers by SMS or any other electronic means with the estimated time for the restoration.

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