Power Ministry drafts new electricity rules; simplified procedures for meter connections

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New Delhi (NVI): For the first time, the Union Power Ministry has unveiled the draft of Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, that has eased the way electricity is supplied to consumers and also offers them a host of other services.

As per the draft rules, timely and simplified procedure for connection has been proposed, under which only two documents will be required for connection up to load of 10 kw and no estimation of demand charges for loads up to 150 kw to expedite giving connection.

Furthermore, time period of not more than 7 days in metro cities, 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas, will be taken to provide new connection and modify existing connections, Power Ministry stated.

Electricity Consumers are the most important stakeholders in the power sector. The sector exists because of them. Having provided access to electricity to all citizens, it is now important to focus on consumer satisfaction. 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, the Ministry stated.

The Ministry has put the draft of the rules for comments and stakeholders consultation, seeking views and suggestions from consumers till September 30 and intends to implement it as part of consumer charter initiative.

The new rules will provide 24×7 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.

In addition to this, discoms have been made liable to compensate consumers for no supply of electricity beyond a particular duration, number of interruptions in supply, time taken for getting an electricity connection, disconnection and shifting.

The idea was to give rights to the consumer to seek 24×7 electricity supply at their homes and provide them a compensation for any deviation from the stated goal, according to rules.

The draft rules, which have also been sent to all discoms and transcos for comments, have specified that the amount of compensation would be determined by the respective electricity commissions.

It has, however, said if discoms delay in serving electricity bills beyond 60 days, consumers would need to be given a rebate on bills between two and five per cent or an amount decided by the commissions.

The new rules also provide that consumers will have to pay through online medium only for electricity bills of more than Rs 1,000.

If a consumer gives prior information in writing about his continued absence from the residence, the discom would not send notice or provisional bill to the consumer provided he pays the fixed charges in advance. The consumer would get interest on advance payment.

The Ministry will also set up Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum with 2-3 representatives of consumers at various levels starting from Sub-division for ease of consumer grievance redressal.