Drafts Electricity Rules 2020 | UPSC

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Drafts Electricity Rules 2020 | UPSC

Drafts Electricity Rules 2020 | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Union Power Ministry in a historic pro-consumer move  ; invites suggestions/comments by 30th September

      WHY IN NEWS:

The government of India has proposed a new set of rules for electricity consumers that fixes automatic compensation to consumers for lacunae in service and also proposes several regulations for the grid-interactive solar rooftop sector.

MINISTRY? :-Ministry of Power
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Energy : Electricity

      LEARNING: 

For PRELIMS nothing much here except few definitions like Pro-consumer or net metering.

For MAINS this is an important issue . Focus on issues related to supply and management of Non renewable energy and DISCOMS’s financial health .

      ISSUE: 

DRAFT OF ELECTRICITY (RIGHTS OF CONSUMERS) RULES 2020

  • Union Power Ministry has drafted Rules providing for Rights of Electricity Consumers for the First Time.
  • Electricity Consumers are the most important stakeholders in the power sector.

Having provided access to electricity to all citizens, it is now important to focus on consumer satisfaction

  • It is imperative to identify the key services, prescribe minimum service levels.
  • It is important to have standards with respect to these services and recognize them as rights of consumers.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Proposes Simplified procedure for electricity connection.
  • Only 2 documents to be required for connection up to load of 10 kw
  • 2 to 5% rebate on serving bills with delay of sixty days or more proposed

Recognises “Prosumers”, the emerging category of consumers

  • Provision for 24×7 Tollfree Call Centre
  • Web-based and mobile applications for common services envisaged.

SALIENT FEATURES

  • RELIABILITY OF SERVICE : SERCs to fix average number and duration of outages per consumer per year for DISCOMs.
  • SIMPLIFIED PROCEDURE : Only two documents for connection up to load of 10 kw and no estimation of demand charges for loads up to 150 kw to expedite giving connection.
  • MODIFICATIONS : Time period of not more than 7 days in metro cities, 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas, to provide new connection and modify existing connection.
  • LATE PAYMENTS : 2 to 5% rebate on serving bills with delay of sixty days or more.
  • ONLINE PAYMENT : Option to pay bills in cash, cheque, debit cards, net banking etc but bills of Rs. 1000 or more to be paid online.

“PROSUMERS” RECOGNITION : Persons who are consumers and have also set up a rooftop units or solarised their irrigation pumps

  • PROCONSUMER PRIVILEGE :They will have right to produce electricity for self-use and inject excess in the grid using same point of connection up to limits prescribed by the SERC.
  • COMPENSATION / PENALTIES : For delay in service by DISCOMs; compensation to be automatic as far as possible, to be passed on in the bill.
  • SUPPORT : 24×7 toll free call centre, mobile applications for common services like new connection, disconnection, reconnection etc. with facilities for sms/email alerts, online status tracking and auto escalation.
  • GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL FORUM : Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum with 2-3 representatives of consumers at various levels starting from Sub-division for ease of consumer grievance redressal.

MOST NEEDED AMENDMENTS IN THE DRAFT

Much of the content in this new draft is covered under the electricity supply codes that various state regulators have notified early in the last decade. 

ISSUES WITH NET METERING

  • NET METERING MECHANISM : The bills of electricity consumers, who also have solar rooftop power systems, are adjusted against the solar power they add to the grid.
  • GROSS METERING MECHANISM : A consumer is compensated at a fixed feed-in-tariff (different rates ) for the total number of units of solar energy generated and exported to the grid.
  • LARGER SOLAR ROOFTOP SECTOR : They are talking about net metering of only upto five KW whereas the focus is to have a larger solar rooftop sector.

India’s installed solar rooftop capacity is about 5,953 MW.With aim of 100,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2022 and of that 40,000 MW is targeted from the solar rooftop.

  • LIMITS ON GENERATION : The total generation capacity of the renewable unit shall not exceed the limit as prescribed by the SERCs.
  • INCENTIVES : It also said the power distribution companies shall pass on the financial incentives to the prosumers as may be provided under various schemes and programmes of the central and state government.

COMPENSATION FOR POOR SERVICE

  • METERING : No connection shall be given without a meter which shall be the smart prepayment meter or prepayment meter.
  • EXCEPTIONS : It clarified that any exception to this shall be duly approved by the SERCs which shall record proper justification for allowing so.
  • UNIFORM REBATE : If any bill is served with a delay of a period of 60 days or more, the consumers shall be given a rebate of 2-5 percent as specified by the state commissions.
  • BILLING : It noted that a bill amount of more than Rs 1,000 or an amount specified by the commission shall mandatorily be paid online.

The rights of poor have been ignored and no compensation is provided to them in case of non-compliance of standards.

  • QUALITY CHECK : There is an urgent need to focus on the quality of the services given to electricity consumers.
  • CLARITY NEEDED :  These rules will be binding on states or not. There needs to be clarity on the legal status of these rules. 

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Although energy experts and those associated with the civil society groups welcome the proposed rules.

They emphasise that most of them already exist in various rules and regulations specified by various states and proper implementation is more the need.

  • The experts also stressed that the government will need to further clarify rules proposed for the solar rooftop sector.
     SOURCES:THE HINDU & PIB | Drafts Electricity Rules 2020 | UPSC

DISCOVER MORE : GS-3

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