Ministry of power has introduced new rules laying down the rights of consumers, an initiative towards consumer empowerment in the power sector.
Issuing the rules, minister of state for power RK.Singh said that these shall empower the consumers of electricity. These rules emanate from the conviction that the power systems exist to serve the consumers and the consumers have rights to get the services and reliable, quality electricity, he said.
Distribution companies across the country are monopolies—whether government or private—and the consumer has no alternative. The new rules empower consumers through a system of laid down rules and a system for enforcement of these rights.
Under the new rules covered under Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, codes have been specified establishing rights of consumers and obligations of distribution licensees. It had also defined ways for release of new connection and modification in 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.
The new rules also established that 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 Act and it is the right of consumer to have minimum standards of service for supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.
The rules have also specified Maximum time period of seven days in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas identified to provide new connection and modify an existing connection. It also had provisions for advance payment of bills by consumers.
The distribution licensee shall supply 24x7 power to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture, the rules suggests.
It has also given power to consumers to set up renewable energy (RE) generation unit including roof top solar photovoltaic (PV) systems—either by himself or through a service provider.
The rules also provide for compensation amount to be paid to the consumers by the distribution licensees for violation of standards of performance.
A consumer grievance redressal forum (CGRF) including consumer and prosumer representatives had also been provided. The consumer grievance redressal 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 has been specified for grievance redressal.
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