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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Govt Amends Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules to Empower Consumers

The Government of India has approved amendments to the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020. Issuing the amendments, the Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy Shri R. K. Singh stated that these amendments further reduce the timeline for getting new electricity connections and that they simplify the process of setting up rooftop solar installations.

The Minister informed that the amendments empower consumers living in multistoried flats in choosing their connection type and ensure separate billing for common areas and back-up generators in residential societies, thus enhancing transparency. The amendments also provide for check meters to be installed by distribution company in case of consumer complaints, to verify electricity consumption.

The major amendments made are as follows.

Facilitating Easier and Faster installation of Rooftop Solar Systems

Amendments have been made in the Rules, to facilitate faster installation and enhance the ease of setting up Rooftop Solar PV systems at the premises of prosumers.

Exemption has been given for the requirement of technical feasibility study, for systems up to a capacity of 10 kW. For systems of capacity higher than 10 kW, the timeline for completing the feasibility study has been reduced from twenty days to fifteen days. Further, in case the study is not completed within the stipulated time, the approval will be deemed to have been given.

Additionally, it has now been mandated that the distribution system strengthening necessary for rooftop solar PV systems up to 5 kW capacity will be done by the distribution company at its own cost.

Further, the timeline for the distribution licensee to commission Rooftop Solar PV systems has been reduced from thirty days to fifteen days.

Separate Connections for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Consumers can now obtain separate electricity connections for charging their Electric Vehicles (EVs).

This aligns with the country’s goal of reducing carbon emissions and reaching Net Zero by the year 2070.

New connections and change in existing connections to be obtained faster

The time period for obtaining a new electricity connection under the Rules has been reduced from seven days to three days in metropolitan areas, from fifteen days to seven days in other municipal areas, and from thirty days to fifteen days in rural areas. However, in rural areas with hilly terrain, the time period for new connections or for modifications in existing connections will remain thirty days.

Additional Rights for Consumers in Residential Colonies and Flats

Provisions have been introduced in the Rules, to enhance consumer choice and promote greater transparency in metering and billing.

Owners residing in co-operative group housing societies, multi-storied buildings, residential colonies, etc., will now have the option to choose from the distribution licensee either individual connections for everyone or a single-point connection for the whole premises.  The exercise of the option will be based on a transparent ballot to be conducted by the Distribution Company. Parity has also been brought in the tariff charged to consumers who get electricity supplied through single-point connection and to those who avail of individual connections.

Metering, billing, and collection will be done separately for: (i) individual electricity consumption sourced from the distribution licensee, (ii) individual consumption of backup power supplied by the residential association, and (iii) electricity consumption for common areas of such residential associations, which is sourced from the distribution licensee.

Mandatory Additional Meter in cases of Complaints

In cases where consumers raise complaints about meter reading not aligning with their actual electricity consumption, the distribution licensee is now required to install an additional meter within five days from the date of receipt of the complaint. This additional meter will be used to verify the consumption for a minimum period of three months, thus reassuring consumers and ensuring accuracy in billing.

The Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister stated that the interest of consumers is paramount for the government. It is for this purpose that the government issued the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 on 31st December, 2020, thus setting standards for services provided by electricity distribution companies all over India. These rules cover aspects such as billing, complaints, compensation and timelines for new connections. They also offer support for renewable energy generation by prosumers.  The Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister stated that the present amendments will further empower the consumers.

The notifications of the Rules in December 2020 and amendments since then, including the present amendment issued on February 22, 2024 can be found below.

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