To allow better quality of electricity supply to consumers, Union power minister RK Singh on Monday announced the new ‘Rights of Consumer Rules, 2020’. The new rules entail performance parameters for electricity distribution companies (Discoms).
As per the rules, if the mentioned parameters are not met, the companies will have to pay compensation to the power users. The order further adds that the state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs) will have to notify the users of the updated ‘standards of performance’ for discoms within 60 days.
The parameters that consumers would get compensation for are unsatisfactory supply duration, number of power cuts, time taken by discoms to provide new connections and replace defective meters.
“Discoms across the country are monopolies — whether government or private — and the consumer has no alternative, therefore it was necessary that the consumers’ rights be laid down in rules and a system for enforcement of these rights be put in place,” Singh said, adding that “if there was open competition, perhaps the services would have been better”.
As per the new rules, it’s mandatory for discoms to provide new connections in the metro cities within seven days of receiving the request. The time has been extended to 15 days in the case of municipal areas and 30 days for rural consumers.
Further, if the user receives electricity bills with a delay of more than 60 days, then they will be eligible for a rebate of up to 5%.
The discoms are mandated to not give a connection without a meter.
Moreover, to ensure 24X7 power supply, the rules make it mandatory for discoms to provide the same. However, the power regulator may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture.