R.K Singh Pushes For Consumer Rights in Power, With Electricity Rules 2020

The Power Sector finally sees a much delayed turn towards becoming more consumer centric, with the promulgation  of a set of rules and obligations under the “Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020” issued today.

Announcing the new rules today, R.K.Singh, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and New & Renewable Energy, said, “These rules shall empower the consumers of electricity and emanate from the conviction that the power systems exist to serve the consumers and the consumers have rights to get the reliable services and quality electricity.” He said that Distribution Companies across the country are monopolies – whether government or private – and the consumer has no alternative – therefore it was necessary that the consumers’ rights be laid down in Rules and a system for enforcement of these rights be put in place.”

Among other things the new rules provide for consumers to have the option to apply for new electricity connection and pay bills online. Consumers should also get electricity connection in prescribed timeline which is 7 days in Metro cities, 15 days in other cities and 30 days in rural areas; Violations to result in penalties.

These rules are expected to benefit about 30 crores existing and prospective consumers in the country.

For potential prosumers, or consumers who go for solar generation on rooftops or elsewhere too, net metering has been mandated for upto 10 KW, and gross metering beyond that.  

Discoms also have to set up 24×7 call centres mandatorily, besides the online facilities.

The new rules are a welcome effort to professionalise the power sector in the country, and bring it more in line with how any sector should work, with the consumer at the centre.

With the many other changes already lined up, one hopes that we will not see a pushback on these new effort too, like we have seen for the Electricity Amendment (Bill) 2020.

In response to a query from SaurEnergy, Mr Singh pointed out that the majority of discoms in the country were not in losses, and the excuse of being short of funding will not be acceptable when it comes to establishing these basic consumer centric facilities.

With an obligation to provide power 24X7  (except for exceptions like agriculture), one does believe that the rules while welcome, may not make an immediate impact, thanks to the multiplicity of regulators and other judicial recourse that has become all to common in the sector. But over time, these new rules will certainly support the broader push to modernise the sector.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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