India

Govt Amends Electricity Rules To Further Empower Consumers; Encourage Green Energy

By
OB Bureau

 

New Delhi: The Union government has amended the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, making it easy for consumers in getting new power connections.

Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy R K Singh, in an announcement, said the changes aim to streamline the process of obtaining new electricity connections and simplify the establishment of rooftop solar installations.

The minister highlighted that the amendments empower consumers residing in multi-storied flats to select their connection type and ensure separate billing for common areas and backup generators in residential societies, thereby enhancing transparency. Additionally, the amendments mandate the installation of check meters by distribution companies in response to consumer complaints to verify electricity consumption.

Changes have been implemented in the rules to expedite installation and improve the process of setting up rooftop solar PV systems on consumers’ premises.

An exemption has been granted for the necessity of a technical feasibility study for systems with a capacity of up to 10 kW. For systems exceeding 10 kW in capacity, the timeframe for conducting the feasibility study has been shortened from 20 days to 15 days. Moreover, if the study is not finalised within the specified period, approval will be automatically granted.

Nevertheless, in rural areas characterised by hilly terrain, the timeframe for new connections or modifications to existing connections will continue to be 30 days.

Furthermore, it is now required that the distribution company bears the cost of necessary distribution system strengthening for rooftop solar PV systems with a capacity of up to 5 kW.

Moreover, the timeframe for the distribution licensee to commission Rooftop Solar PV systems has been reduced from 30 to 15 days.

This apart, consumers now have the option to acquire distinct electricity connections specifically for charging electric vehicles (EVs). This initiative aligns with the nation’s objective of decreasing carbon emissions and achieving Net Zero status by the year 2070.

Under the amended rules, the timeframe for obtaining a new electricity connection has been reduced to three days in metropolitan areas, seven days in other municipal areas, and 15 days in rural areas. However, in rural areas with hilly terrain, the timeframe for new connections or modifications to existing connections will remain 30 days.

Additional Rights for Consumers in Residential Colonies and Flats

New provisions have been incorporated into the rules to expand consumer options and foster increased transparency in metering and billing processes.

Residents residing in cooperative group housing societies, multi-storied buildings, residential colonies, etc., will now have the flexibility to select either individual connections for each unit or a single-point connection for the entire premises from the distribution licensee. The decision will be determined through a transparent ballot conducted by the distribution company. Additionally, parity has been established in the tariff applied to consumers receiving electricity via a single-point connection and those opting for individual connections.

Metering, billing, and collection will be conducted distinctly for the following: (i) individual electricity usage obtained from the distribution licensee, (ii) individual consumption of backup power provided by the residential association, and (iii) electricity consumption for common areas of such residential associations, which is procured from the distribution licensee.

Mandatory additional meter in cases of complaints

Instances where consumers report discrepancies between meter readings and their actual electricity usage, the distribution licensee must now install an additional meter within five days from the receipt of the complaint. This supplementary meter will be utilised to validate consumption for a minimum of three months, thereby providing reassurance to consumers and ensuring billing accuracy.

The minister emphasized that safeguarding consumer interests is of utmost importance to the government. It is with this objective in mind that the government introduced the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 on December 31, 2020, setting forth benchmarks for services offered by electricity distribution companies across India. These rules encompass various aspects including billing, grievance redressal, compensation, and timelines for new connections.

Additionally, they provide encouragement for renewable energy generation by prosumers. Singh further highlighted that the recent amendments will serve to enhance consumer empowerment.

OB Bureau

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