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Centre Amends Electricity Rules to Empower Consumers

New Delhi: In a significant move towards enhancing consumer rights and promoting sustainable energy, the Government of India has approved amendments to the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020. Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy, RK Singh, announced the amendments, emphasizing their role in reducing timelines for new electricity connections and simplifying the installation process for rooftop solar systems.

The key amendments aim to facilitate the faster and more straightforward installation of Rooftop Solar PV systems for prosumers. Notably, the requirements for technical feasibility studies have been exempted for systems up to 10 kW capacity, with a reduced timeline of fifteen days for systems exceeding 10 kW. Distribution companies are now mandated to bear the cost of strengthening the distribution system for rooftop solar PV systems up to 5 kW. Additionally, the timeline for distribution licensees to commission Rooftop Solar PV systems has been halved from thirty days to fifteen days.

Consumers looking to charge their Electric Vehicles (EVs) can now obtain separate electricity connections, aligning with India’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and achieving Net Zero by 2070.

The amendments also address the efficiency of obtaining new electricity connections, reducing the time period from seven days to three days in metropolitan areas, seven days to fifteen days in other municipal areas, and fifteen days to thirty days in rural areas. However, rural areas with hilly terrain will maintain a thirty-day timeline for new connections or modifications to existing connections.

Further enhancing consumer choice and transparency, the Rules introduce provisions for owners in residential colonies and flats to choose between individual connections for everyone or a single-point connection for the entire premises. The choice will be determined through a transparent ballot conducted by the Distribution Company. Tariff parity has been established for consumers availing of either connection type.

To address consumer complaints about meter readings, the amendments mandate the distribution licensee to install an additional meter within five days of receiving the complaint. This additional meter will verify consumption for a minimum period of three months, ensuring billing accuracy and consumer reassurance.

RK Singh reiterated the government’s commitment to consumer interests, highlighting the issuance of the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, on December 31, 2020. These rules set service standards for electricity distribution companies across India, covering aspects such as billing, complaints, compensation, and timelines for new connections. The recent amendments aim to further empower consumers in their interactions with electricity providers.

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