The Power Ministry on Friday said that it has simplified the electricity consumer rules, reducing the time for availing new connections and simplifying the setting up of rooftop solar installations and allowing separate connections for charging EVs.

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Issuing the amendments, Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said the amendments empower consumers living in multi-storied flats to choose their connection type and ensure separate billing for common areas and backup generators in residential societies, enhancing transparency, the Ministry said.

The amendments also provide for check meters to be installed by distribution companies in case of consumer complaints to verify electricity consumption, it added.

Rooftop solar

Amendments have been made to the rules to facilitate faster installation and enhance the ease of setting up rooftop solar (RTS) PV systems on consumers’ premise.

Exemption has been given for the requirement of technical feasibility study, for systems up to a capacity of 10 kilowatt (kW). For systems of capacity higher than 10 kW, the timeline for completing the feasibility study has been reduced from 20 days to 15 days. Further, in case the study is not completed within the stipulated time, the approval will be deemed to have been given.

Additionally, it has now been mandated that the distribution system strengthening necessary for RTS PV systems up to 5 kW capacity will be done by the Discom at its own cost. Further, the timeline for the Discom to commission RTS PV systems has been reduced from 30 to 15 days.

Residential colonies

The rules have introduced provisions to enhance consumer choice and promote greater transparency in metering and billing. Owners residing in co-operative group housing societies (CGHS), multi-storied buildings, residential colonies, etc, will now have the option to choose from the Discom, either individual connections for everyone or a single-point connection for the whole premises.

The exercise of the option will be based on a transparent ballot to be conducted by the Discom. Parity has also been brought in the tariff charged to consumers who get electricity supplied through single-point connections and those who avail of individual connections.

Metering, billing, and collection will be done separately for individual electricity consumption sourced from the Discom, individual consumption of backup power supplied by the residential association and consumption for common areas of such residential associations, which is sourced from the Discom.

Additional meter

In cases where consumers complain about meter readings not aligning with their actual electricity consumption, Discom is now required to install an additional meter within five days from the date of receipt of the complaint, which will be used to verify the consumption for a minimum period of three months.

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Singh stated that the interest of consumers is paramount for the government. For this purpose that the government issued the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 in December 2020, thus setting standards for services provided by Discoms all over India.

These rules cover aspects such as billing, complaints, compensation and timelines for new connections. They also offer support for renewable energy generation by prosumers.