The power ministry has prepared draft rules providing for rights of electricity consumers for the first time, an official statement said on Wednesday.
"Union Power Ministry in a historic pro-consumer move drafts Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020; invites suggestions/comments by September 30, 2020," the ministry said in the statement.
The objective is to provide consumers better services and facilities, it said adding that electricity consumers are the most important stakeholders in the power sector and the sector exists because of them.
Having provided access to electricity to all citizens, it is now important to focus on consumer satisfaction and for this, it is imperative to identify the key services, prescribe minimum service levels and standards with respect to these services and recognize them as rights of consumers, it noted.
The draft rules propose a Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum with 2-3 representatives of consumers at various levels starting from sub-division, the statement said.
The draft also pertains to timely and simplified procedure for connection. A person would require only two documents for connection up to a load of 10 kw, and no estimation of demand charges for load up to 150 kw to expedite giving connection.
It also fixes the time period for providing connection. The time period will not exceed 7 days in metro cities, 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas, to provide new connections and modify existing connections.
As per the draft, SERCs (State Electricity Regulatory Commission) will fix the average number and duration of outages per consumer per year for DISCOMs.
For making payments, there is an option to pay bills in cash, cheque, debit cards, net banking etc but bills of Rs 1000 or more would be paid online.
Another feature of the draft rules is a 24x7 toll free call centre, web-based and mobile applications for common services like new connection, disconnection, reconnection, shifting of connection, change in name and particulars, load change, replacement of meter, no supply, etc with facilities for SMS/email alerts, online status tracking and auto escalation.
"Draft Rules have been circulated by the Ministry of Power on September 9, 2020 for seeking comments/views/suggestions of consumers up to 30th September 2020. They shall be finalized after taking into account all the suggestions received and issued," the ministry said.