Union Power Ministry drafts rules for the protection of consumer rights
New Delhi/IBNS: In a bid to provide better services and protect the rights of electricity consumers, the Union power ministry has drafted rules for the first time and invited suggestions in this connection by September 30.
"Union Power Ministry in a historic pro-consumer move drafts Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020; invites suggestions/comments by 30th September," the government said in a statement.
The ministry said the consumers are the most important stakeholders in the power sector and the sector exists because of them, adding that the objective is to provide them better services and facilities.
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 Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum with 2-3 representatives of consumers at various levels starting from Sub-division for ease of consumer grievance redressal.
A person would require only two documents for connection up to load of 10 kw and no estimation of demand charges for loads up to 150 kw to expedite giving connection.
It also sets the time period for setting up a new connection. According to the draft rules, the new connections should be provided and existing connections should be modified in not more than seven days in metro cities, 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas.
The draft said that the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) will fix the average number and duration of outages per consumer per year for DISCOMs.
There would be the option to pay bills in cash, cheque, debit cards, net banking etc but bills of Rs. 1000 or more would be paid online, the draft proposed.
.As per the draft, 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.
The draft also proposes recognition to the emerging category of consumers known as “Prosumers”. They have been defined as persons who are consumers and have also set up rooftop units or solarised their irrigation pumps. They will have right to produce electricity for self-use and inject excess in the grid using same point of connection up to limits prescribed by the SERC.
"Draft Rules have been circulated by Ministry of Power on 9th September 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.