Mumbai: In a significant move, the Union Ministry of Power on Monday has promulgated rules laying down the rights of electricity consumers in the country. Consumers will have the option to apply for new electricity connections and pay bills online. They will get electricity connections in prescribed timeline, which is seven days in metros, 15 days in other cities and 30 days in rural areas and in case of violations, penalties will be imposed on distribution companies (discoms).
The rules are expected to benefit about 30 crore existing and prospective consumers in the country. These rules were released by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and New & Renewable Energy RK Singh. ‘‘Implementation of these rules shall ensure that new electricity connections, refunds and other services are given in a time bound manner. Wilful disregard to consumer rights will result in levying penalties on service providers,” he said.
Discoms will maintain transparency in consumer tariff and bills and consumers shall have the option to pay bills online or offline with a provision for advance payment of bills.
It will be mandatory for the distribution licensee to supply 24x7 power to all consumers. However, the state electricity regulatory commission (SERC) 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.
Distribution licensee shall establish a centralised 24x7 toll-free call centre and endeavour to provide all services through a common Customer Relation Manager (CRM) System to get a unified view.
According to these rules, consumers will be 'prosumers' who 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 roof-top solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – either by themselves or through a service provider. Net metering for loads up to ten kW and gross metering for loads above ten kW.
Further, electricity consumers will be entitled to compensation in the wake of violation of standards of performance by the distribution licensees. The SERC will notify the standards of performance for the distribution licensees.
As for redressal of grievances, the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) will be operational, comprising consumer and prosumer representatives. The consumer grievance redressal has been made easy by making it multi-layered and the number of consumer 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. There will be a maximum timeline of 45 days specified for grievance redressal.