As per the new rules, state electricity regulators will have to notify updated ‘standards of performance’ for discoms and specify compensation amounts consumers would receive if standards are not met.
To ensure quality of power supply to consumers, the Union power ministry has proposed a set of performance parameters for electricity distribution companies (discoms), failing which these entities will have to pay compensation for power users. To that end, the ministry has come out with a draft version of Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 and has sought stakeholders’ comments on the proposal by the end of this month.
As per the new rules, state electricity regulators will have to notify updated ‘standards of performance’ for discoms and specify compensation amounts that consumers would receive if the standards are not met. The parameters for which consumers would be eligible for compensation include unsatisfactory supply duration, number of power cuts, time taken by discoms to provide new connections and replace defective meters.
“It is the right of the consumer to have minimum standards of service for supply of electricity from the distribution licensee as per the rules laid down,” the draft of the rules said. Union power minister RK Singh had told FE in March that the government was planning to include consumer rights in the regulatory framework, improving upon the current, laxly-implemented ‘standards of service’ outlined by state power regulators.
The Centre has proposed that new connections and modification of existing connections should be provided by discoms within seven days of receiving requests for consumers. For other municipal areas the time allotted in 15 days and for rural consumers, it will have to be done within 30 days. Discoms will have to make provisions that such requests can be done online, and the progress can be tracked through web-based systems. If the consumers receive electric bills with a delay of more than 60-days, they will be eligible for a rebate of up to 5%, as approved by respective state power regulators.
All new connections will have to be given smart or regular pre-paid meters. Consumers with smart pre-paid meters will have to be given access to their usage data on a real-time basis, and they should also have the option of purchasing the meters by themselves. State electricity regulators will have to allow self-meter reading by consumers, and photographs of such readings sent through mobile or email would be deemed valid.
In order to promote rooftop solar installations, the power ministry said that discoms will have to make all arrangements to facilitate installation of renewable energy generation capacity in the premises of the ‘prosumers’ — consumers injecting electricity into the discoms grid. This will allow prosumers to sell electricity produced by them to discoms, within the limits set by regulators.