Recently, the government has notified the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, which would allow consumers in India to access a continuous supply of reliable electricity.
Q. What is its coverage?
The rules cover various aspects of power supply to consumers in the country, including obligations of distribution licensees, metering arrangements, the release of new connections, modifications of existing connections, grievance redressal and compensation mechanisms.
Q. What is its significance?
This will make the distribution companies more accountable to consumers, thus reducing their monopolies and giving consumers more alternatives.
To ensure compliance, the government will apply penalties that will be credited to the consumer’s account.
These rules are also an important step towards furthering the ease of doing business across the country.
Implementation of these Rules shall ensure that new electricity connections, refunds and other services are given in a time-bound manner.
Q. What are the areas Covered in the Rules?
Rights and Obligations
Duty of every distribution licensee to supply electricity on request made by an owner or occupier of any premises in line with the provisions of Act.
Right of consumers to have minimum standards of service for the supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.
Release of New Connection and Modification in Existing Ones
Transparent, simple and time-bound processes.
An applicant has an option for online application.
The maximum time period of 7 days in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas identified to provide new connections and modify an existing connection.
Disconnection and Reconnection Provisions.
No connection shall be given without a meter.
Meter shall be the smart prepayment meter or a prepayment meter.
Provision of Testing of meters.
Provisions for replacement of defective or burnt or stolen meters specified.
Billing and Payment
Transparency in applicable consumer tariff and bills.
A consumer shall have the option to pay bills online or offline.
Provision for advance payment of bills.
Reliability of Supply
The distribution licensee shall supply 24x7 power to all consumers. However, lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture could be specified.
The distribution licensee shall put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools to the extent possible, for monitoring and restoring outages.
Consumer as Prosumer
While the prosumers will maintain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer, they will also have the right to set up Renewable Energy (RE) generation units including rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
A prosumer is an individual who both consume and produces.
Standards of Performance of License
Standards of performance for the distribution licensees will be notified.
Compensation amount to be paid to the consumers by the distribution licensees for violation of standards of performance.
Automatic compensation shall be paid to consumers for which parameters on standards of performance can be monitored remotely.
Call Centre for Consumer Services
Distribution licensee shall establish a centralised 24x7 toll-free call centre.
Licensees shall endeavour to provide all services through a common Customer Relation Manager (CRM) System to get a unified view.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism
Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) to include consumer and prosumer representatives.
It has been made easy by making it multi-layered and the number of consumer’s representatives have been increased from one to four.
The licensee shall specify the time within which various types of grievances by the different levels of the forums are to be resolved. Maximum timeline of 45 days specified for grievance redressal.