Emphasising that uninterrupted power supply is a basic right, Power Minister R K Singh said the government has empowered the consumer with provisions to penalise gratuitous and deliberate load shedding.

In an exclusive interview with businessline, the Power Minister underlined the rights of consumer rules that his Ministry has framed as subordinate legislation to ensure that power supply becomes a basic right of the people. He said as the country’s electricity demand increases significantly on an annual basis aided by rising industrial and household consumption, the consumer needs to be empowered.

“We made rules called rights of consumer rules. In that, one rule is that every consumer is entitled to 24x7 power supply. I am the first one to sort-of actually make a rule. In fact, before me, nobody spoke of consumer rights. There was no rule which laid down consumer rights. One rule is availability of power. I have said it has to be 24x7. If anybody does gratuitous load shedding, any Discom, then they have to pay a penalty. Nobody thought that this could be done. We did it,” Singh told businessline.

Consumer is the king

The Minister said the government has strengthened consumer rights further by setting up a monitoring committee to check outages.

“I have been asking people to file a complaint if there is gratuitous load shedding. Now, we have established a monitoring committee at the Ministry from where we will monitor load shedding as many people may not be able to file a consumer complaint. So, we will monitor from here. If there is load shedding due to a system outage, I don’t mind. But if there is deliberate load shedding then a penalty has to be imposed. I am monitoring the situation. Those days are gone where you said we can’t provide electricity,” he added.

The development assumes importance as India experiences power outages during the peak demand summer months. In the last 2-3 years the Ministry has continuously worked to ensure adequate supply to consumers. This has resulted in a decline in power deficit from over 4 per cent to around 0.4-0.2 per cent.

Meeting demand

Singh said the Ministry expects peak power demand to increase to about 260 gigawatts (GW) in FY25 from 243 GW in September last year. In this context, he said, the government is fully prepared to meet the rising electricity demand with several initiatives such as having sufficient coal stocks at thermal power plants (TPPs), delaying planned plant maintenance, and running imported coal and gas-based plants at full capacity, among others.

Singh pointed out that India will add more thermal and RE capacities to meet the power demand.

“The thing is that demand will keep increasing. So, I have to look ahead and make sure that I commission capacity as fast as possible. I have added and also adding capacity. Already, this year, I think, we have added about 5,600 MW. By June, we will add another 3,000-5,000 MW RE capacity. Some thermal capacity will also be commissioned,” he added.

“We have to be and we will be prepared because by 2030 our peak power demand will double from 260 GW,” the Minister pointed out.

The Ministry is already building more thermal and RE capacities to meet the power demand by 2032.

In February, Singh informed Rajya Sabha in a written reply that 26,380 megawatt (MW) of thermal capacity is under construction, 11,960 MW bid out and another 19,050 MW is under clearances. The total anticipated capacity addition by FY32 will be 93,380 MW.

Around 103,660 MW of renewable energy capacity is also under construction, and the anticipated capacity addition by FY32 will be 322,000 MW.