Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020: The Union Government on December 21, 2020 notified the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, which lay down the rights of electricity consumers in the country.
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power RK Singh said that the rules will empower the consumers of electricity with rights that will allow them access to reliable and quality electricity. The Electricity rules not only lay down the consumers’ rights but also puts in place a system for enforcement of these rights.
Electricity (Rights of consumers) Rules cover the following key areas:
a) Rights of consumers and Obligations of Distribution licensees
b) Release of new connection and modification in an existing connection
c) Metering arrangement
d) Billing and Payment
e) Disconnection and Reconnection
f) Reliability of supply
g) Consumer as Prosumer
h) Standards of Performance of licensee
i) Compensation Mechanism
j) Call Centre for Consumer Services
k) Grievance redressal mechanism
Electricity Rules 2020: Key Rights of Consumer
•Under the provisions of the rules, it will be the duty of every distribution licensee to supply electricity on request made by the owner/occupier of any premises.
•The rules also include the consumer’s right to have minimum standards of service for the supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.
•The distribution licensee shall be mandated to supply 24×7 power to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture.
•The distribution licensee shall also be mandated to put in place a mechanism for monitoring and restoring outages.
•A maximum time period of 7 days has been identified in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas to provide a new connection or modify an existing one.
•Those who want to apply for a new connection or modify the existing one will be given the option for online application and the entire process will be made more simple, transparent, and time-bound.
•No connection will be given without a meter and the meter will have to be a smart prepayment meter or pre-payment meter.
•The new rules comprise the provision of testing of the meters and also for replacement of defective or burnt or stolen meters.
•Further, in case of billing and payment, there will be full transparency in applicable consumer tariff and bills and the consumer will have the option of paying the bills online or offline.
•There will also be a provision for advance payment of bills
• The Electricity Commission shall also notify the standards of performance for the distribution licensees. A compensation amount will be paid to the consumers by the distribution licensees for violation of standards of performance
•The distribution licensee shall also establish a centralised 24×7 toll-free call centre.
Why were the rules necessary?
The rules were necessary because the distribution companies across the country are monopolies, both government and private, and this gives the consumer no other alternative. The new rules comprise provisions that will make the distribution companies more accountable to consumers.
•According to Power Minister, the implementation of the rules shall ensure new electricity connections, refunds and other services are provided in a timebound manner.
•Any wilful disregard to consumer rights will result in levying penalties on service providers.
•The rules are one of the major initiatives by the centre to put the consumer in the centre-stage of public utility services.
•The rules are expected to benefit around 30 crore of existing and prospective consumers in the country.
•The rules are also a major step towards furthering the ease of doing business across the country.
•The states and DISCOMs have been advised to provide wide publicity to these highly consumer-friendly rules of the Government.