Failure to Provide Reliable Power: Power Corporations to Reimburse Consumers for Poor Supply

Failure to Provide Reliable Power Power Corporations to Reimburse Consumers for Poor Supply

In a significant development, electricity consumers are now empowered to seek compensation from power distribution companies (discoms) for their failure to ensure a steady power supply, thanks to the Rights of Consumers Rules 2020.

As frustrations mount in Kashmir over inconsistent power supply, consumers are leveraging these rules to hold discom accountable for their lapses in providing a reliable power supply.

Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL) is the sole electricity distribution agency in Kashmir.

It has come under severe criticism for failing to provide a quality power supply in the Valley.

The Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 were notified by the Government of India on December 31, 2020, based on the conviction that power systems exist to serve consumers and that consumers have the right to get reliable services and quality electricity.

The Rules seek to ensure that new electricity connections, refunds and other services are given in a time-bound manner and that willful disregard for consumer rights results in the levying of penalties on service providers and payment of compensation to consumers.

The Rights of Consumers Rules 2020, enacted to safeguard consumer interests, grant electricity consumers the right to demand compensation when faced with service failures. These rules, formulated to ensure fair treatment and quality services for consumers, mark a pivotal step toward establishing accountability within the power sector.

Kashmir is facing extended power shortages, as the announced schedule by KPDCL is not followed, resulting in economic losses for industries and businesses.

Additionally, widespread load shedding is causing mental distress for the entire population, impacting children’s studies.

As per Rule 13 of Rights of Consumers under the heading ‘Compensation Mechanism’: “Consumer shall be automatically compensated for those parameters which can be monitored remotely when it can be successfully established that there is a default in performance of the distribution licensee.

“The standards of performance for which the compensation is required to be paid by the distribution licensee include no supply to a consumer beyond a particular duration, to be specified by the commission; the number of interruptions in supply beyond the limits as specified by the commission.

“The distribution licensee, within six months from the date of notification of the regulations by the Commission under sub-rule (2), 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 the licensee’s website.”

The Commission refers to the regulatory commission.

“In all cases of compensation, the payment of compensation shall be made by adjustment against current or future bills for supply of electricity, within stipulated time from the determination of claim as specified by the commission,” it states.

Union Minister for Power and Renewable Energy R K Singh in New Delhi on June 22 said, “If there is load shedding, we are asking questions. There were some cities in Uttar Pradesh where we found there was unreasonable load shedding happening, so we pulled them up. We have made 24×7 electricity a right. We have introduced the Electricity (Right of Consumers) Rules 2020, which is a law. If any discom does any gratuitous load-shedding, then they have to pay compensation to the consumers.”

Under the rules, section ‘Reliability of Supply’: “The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 power to all consumers. However, the commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture. The commission shall specify the following parameters to maintain the reliability of supply by the distribution licensee; namely total duration and frequency of outages per consumer in a year, system average interruption duration index (SAIDI); system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI); the minimum outage time (in minutes) that the distribution licensee shall consider for the calculation of SAIDI or SAIFI, as the case may be. The distribution licensee shall put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools to the extent possible, for monitoring and restoring outages.”

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