- Consumer rights laid down for the power sector
- Discoms will have to pay up to Rs 1 lakh for inconsistent services.
For the first time service rules and consumer rights have been applied to the power supply sector which was presumed by the government earlier. The regulations are formulated to make sure that the customers get the best service for the money that they pay, regardless of which entity (government or private) serves them.
“Discoms must realize that they are to serve consumers and not vice versa. Consumers are paying not to suffer inefficiency of Discoms but for a certain standard service”, said Power Minister P K Singh in an interview.
What Are The New Rules?
Singh announced that the distribution companies will be held accountable for suspicious or malicious outages. Discoms will be fined with Rs 1 Lakh and will have to provide services like installation of new connected, replacement of meter, changing load within stringent timelines as compensation.
“These rules emanate from the conviction that the power systems exist to serve the consumers and the consumers have rights to get the services and reliable, quality electricity… Power is a concurrent subject and under the (Electricity) act the center has the authority to frame laws and rules… These rules are not optional (for states) and violations would result in penalties”, the minister stated in the announcement.
How Are These Rules Going To Be Implemented?
The new norms have encouraged the Discoms to adopt electronic services and online payment methods.
According to the rules, within the next six months of the notification sent by the state tariff regulator, Discoms will have to create an online facility to enable consumers to issue the compensation. If the breakdown goes beyond the limit specified by the regulator, Discoms will have to inform their customers through SMS or other electronic means. Just like mobile companies, Power companies too will have to send alerts about payment of bills electronically. They will have to offer an allowance to customers if bills are circulated late more than 60 days of the billing cycle.
The state tariff regulator will notify the time the Power companies have to rectify system interruptions. . For few sectors like agriculture, the regulator is allowed to set low supply limits. Discoms will have to fill in the compensations in the current or future bills.
The rule also states that bills exceeding Rs 1000 should be paid only through the electronic method, cash and cheques will be available only for amounts lower than that. The rules allow a customer to set up a solar power unit for individual use and utilize the power as a prosumer.
The new consumer rules laid for the power sector are laid keeping in mind the convenience me and benefit of customers to the largest extend.