The new norm Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 gives consumers the right to have a minimum standard of service for power supply. Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 was laid on December 21, 2020. According to the Power Minister RK Singh, these rules had to be laid down because there is a monopoly in discoms and that leaves consumers with no choices. He said, “These rules are [an] important step towards furthering the ease of doing business across [the] country.”
The new rule makes the electricity distribution companies more accountable to the consumers because it provides several rights to them, one being getting quality and reliable electricity. There will also be a penalty imposed if the discoms fail to perform their duty. The amount will be credited to the consumers account.
Here are the key areas covered under the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020:
- Rights of consumers and obligations of distribution licensees
- Provision of new connection and modification in existing connection
- billing and payment
- metering arrangement
- grievance redressal mechanism
- reliability of supply
- disconnection and reconnection
- consumer as ‘prosumer’
- standards of performance of licensee
- compensation mechanism
- call centre for consumer services
As per the new bill, it is obligatory for the electricity service provider to give electricity on request of the owner of a premises. The reliability of supply means that providers have to give 24*7 electricity to all the consumers, but the commission has been allowed to lower hours for some categories of agriculture.
The significance of Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 is that it is expected to bring the consumers at centre stage. There will be penalties if the discoms violate norms. The services will have to be provided in the specified time. For instance, a new connection in metro cities should be done within 7 days. For other cities, a new connection should be provided in 15 days and in rural areas, 30 days can be taken to start a new connection.