Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 – UPSC GS2

Union Government has laid down Rights to the Electricity Consumers through “Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020”.
  • The Ministry of Power framed the proposed rules under Section 176 of the Electricity Act 2003.
  • Note: Electricity is a concurrent subject and the Centre has the power to make rules to be implemented in each state.
Objective: To empower consumers with rights that would allow them to access continuous supply of quality, reliable electricity.
Rights and Obligations:
  • Distributor: It is the duty of every distribution licensee to supply electricity on request made by an owner or occupier of any premises in line with the provisions of Act.
  • Consumer: Whereas, consumers have a right to have minimum standards of service for supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.
  • Release of new connection and modification in existing connection: Maximum time period of 7 days in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas, has been fixed to provide new connection and modify an existing connection.
  • Metering: No connection shall be given without a meter that shall be a smart prepayment meter or prepayment meter.
  • Billing and Payment: There should be transparency applicable consumer tariff and bills, with the option to pay advance bills.
  • Reliability of supply: The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 power to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture.
  • Consumer as prosumer: While the prosumers will maintain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer, they will also have the right to set up Renewable Energy (RE) generation units including roof top solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – either by himself or through a service provider.
  • Prosumer: It means a person who consumes electricity from the grid and can also inject electricity into the grid for distribution licensees using the same point of supply.
  • Compensation mechanism: Automatic compensation shall be paid to consumers for which parameters on standards of performance can be monitored remotely.
  • Call Centre for Consumer Services: Distribution licensee shall establish a centralized 24×7 toll-free call center.
  • Grievance redressal mechanism: Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) to include consumer and prosumer representatives. Though Maximum timeline of 45 days has been specified for grievance redressal, licensee shall specify the time within which various types of grievances will be resolved.
NOTE: Can be used as a case study in Citizen Charter related Questions.
Limitations of the Rules:
  • Already existing Rules: Many Rules are already exists as SoPs of various State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs). What is lacking is lack of accountability mechanism to enforce them.
  • Failed past reforms: Past efforts such as the draft National Tariff Policy, the proposed Electricity Act amendments, or various committee processes did not address the accountability concerns.
  • Lack of monitoring of Power Supply: Then how will Discoms compensate in the event of power failure.
  • Financial Implications: Compensating consumers in the event of failure of power supply can cost hundreds of crores to Discoms.
  • Regressive Rules than existing Rules: Few States already have better rules in place. For example, As per the new rules faulty meters should be tested within 30 days of receipt of a complaint. However, states such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh have rules that mandates that such testing needs to be conducted within 7 days.
  • Ineffective Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Rules state that the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum should be headed by a senior officer of the DISCOMS company is a regressive provision. Because, it will reduce the number of cases that are decided in favour of consumers.

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