Electricity consumers will get compensation from power distribution companies for long power cuts, delay in granting electricity connections and other related services.
The government has promulgated rules for rights of electricity consumers, which provide for penalties up to ₹1 lakh on power distribution companies, Union power minister R K Singh said.
The rules provide for compensation for no supply to a consumer beyond a particular duration, to be specified by the electricity commission and for interruptions in supply beyond limits specified by the commission.
They provide for stringent timelines for connection, disconnection, reconnection and shifting. Delay in change in consumer category or load; change in consumer details; replacement of defective meters; period within which bills are to be served and bill-related complaints will attract penalties. Singh said consumers will get electricity connection within seven days in metro cities, 15 days in other cities and 30 days in rural areas.
Singh said power distribution companies 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.
“These rules emanate from the conviction that the power systems exist to serve the consumers and the consumers have rights to get the services and reliable, quality electricity,” he said.
On being asked about concerns about compliance from states, Singh said electricity is in the Concurrent List and the central government has the authority to lay down rules. “These rules are not optional and violations would result in penalties,” he said.
The rules provide that the details of scheduled power outages shall be informed to the consumers. In case of unplanned outage or fault, immediate intimation shall be given to the consumers through SMS or by any other electronic mode along with estimated time for restoration.
Also, the distribution licensee, within six months from the date of notification of the regulations by the commission, shall create an online facility on which consumers may register and claim the compensation amount. The information in this regard shall be widely circulated among consumers through appropriate means including mass media, bills, SMS, e-mails or by uploading on licensee’s website.
In all cases, the payment of compensation shall be made by adjustment against current or future bills for supply of electricity, within stipulated time as specified by the commission.