From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Rights to the Electricity Consumers
The Ministry of Power has for the first time laid down Rights to the Electricity Consumers through “Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020”.
Q.What are the new Rights to the Electricity Consumers as envisaged under Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020?
Rights to the Electricity Consumers: A highlight
Following key areas are covered in the Electricity (Rights of consumers) Rules:
- Rights of consumers and Obligations of Distribution licensees
- Release of new connection and modification in an existing connection
- Metering arrangement
- Billing and Payment
- Disconnection and Reconnection
- Reliability of supply
- Consumer as Prosumer
- Standards of Performance of licensee
- Compensation Mechanism
- Call Centre for Consumer Services
- Grievance redressal mechanism
(1) Rights and Obligations
- It is the 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 the Act.
- It is the right of the consumer to have minimum standards of service for the supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.
(2) Release of new connection and modification in an existing connection
- Transparent, simple, and time-bound processes,
- The 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 existing connections.
- No connection shall be given without a meter;
- Meter shall be the smart pre-payment meter or pre-payment meter;
- Provision of Testing of meters;
- Provisions for replacement of defective or burnt or stolen meters specified.
(4) 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.
(5) Reliability of supply
- The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 powers to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture;
- The distribution licensee shall put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools to the extent possible, for monitoring and restoring outages.
(6) Consumer as prosumer
- The prosumers will maintain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer.
- They will also have the right to set up RE generation units including rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – either by themselves or through a service provider.
- Net metering for loads up to ten kW and for gross metering for loads above ten kW.
(7) Standards of Performance
- The Commission shall notify the standards of performance for the distribution licensees;
- Compensation amount to be paid to the consumers by the distribution licensees for violation of standards of performance.
(8) Compensation mechanism
- Automatic compensation shall be paid to consumers for which parameters on standards of performance can be monitored remotely;
- The standards of performance for which the compensation is required to be paid by the distribution licensee.
(9) Call Centre for Consumer Services
- Distribution licensee shall establish a centralized 24×7 toll-free call center;
- Licensees shall endeavor to provide all services through a common Customer Relation Manager (CRM) System to get a unified view.
(10) Grievance redressal mechanism
- Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) to include consumer and prosumer representatives;
- The consumer grievance redressal has been made easy by making it multi-layered and the number of consumer’s representatives has 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.