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24x7 power supply, complaints redressal in fixed time; cabinet to okay new consumer charter soon

In an exclusive interview with Business Today, Union Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy RK Singh said the government is working on making policies that are consumer-centric and bring attitudinal change among discoms to provide better services

Nirbhay Kumar | August 12, 2020 | Updated 15:38 IST
24x7 power supply, complaints redressal in fixed time; cabinet to okay new consumer charter soon
The Centre had earlier signed pacts with states to provide power 24x7 but most of them failed to meet the deadline

Highlights

Consumer charter for compensating consumers in event of power cuts on its way

The charter would also cover prosumers, consumers producing power by installing rooftop solar panels, and require discoms to collect power

Power Minister RK Singh said that discoms would be required to provide 24x7 power and sort out consumer complaints in stipulated time

Even as India added power capacity at a much faster pace and now has surplus power, many states still witness electricity cuts

Electricity consumers facing power cuts and delays in resolving complaints will soon get compensation from distribution companies as the government is in the process of bringing in a charter for consumer rights.

The proposed charter is part of a new tariff policy which is awaiting approval from the union cabinet following nod from a ministerial panel. It is aimed at providing 24x7 electricity to consumers.

The charter would also cover prosumers, consumers producing power by installing rooftop solar panels and require discoms to collect power.

In an exclusive interview with Business Today, Union Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy RK Singh said the government is working on making policies that are consumer-centric and bring attitudinal change among discoms to provide better services.

"There is a need for attitudinal change in the power sector and we are making policies consumer-centric. We are trying to bring this in two ways. One is the tariff policy and the other is that we are coming out with rules, rights of consumers," the Minister said.

Also Read: Proposed reforms don't address issues of power sector, says L&T Power CEO Shailendra Roy

Elaborating on the consumer charter, he said it would establish a timeline for providing a new connection or resolving a dispute among other services.

"For example, if you apply for a connection, there is a time limit. If they do not provide a connection within that time frame, you will receive compensation. There will be a time limit for resolving complaints. If they don't resolve there will again be compensation. The rules would cover both consumers and prosumers," the minister enunciated.

Singh stated that consumers should not suffer due to the inefficiencies of the power distribution companies but also noted that cross-subsidies need to gradually come down.

The Centre had earlier signed pacts with states to provide power 24x7 but most of them failed to meet the deadline. The new tariff policy, which is in the works, has reiterated the promise.

"We have in the new tariff policy provided, again, that this deadline should be adhered to. If any relaxation has to be given, the regulator will give (it) depending on the circumstances of the states. Otherwise, the states will have to adhere to it. And if they do not supply 24x7 power, penalties will be levied on distribution companies," RK Singh said.

Also Read: Tata Power plans shift to customer-centric businesses with bouquet of services

Even as India added power capacity at a much faster pace and now has surplus power, many states are still witnessing electricity cuts. Loaded with heavy losses, discoms perennially face a cash crunch and hence unable to pay power generation companies for (buying) additional power. Left with no choice, they go for load-shedding.

As per research and rating firm ICRA, discoms' total outstanding dues to power generating companies stood at Rs 1,17,000 crore as of May 2020.

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