Power utilities may soon be paying for unannounced power cuts. The Ministry of Power proposes to amend the Electricity Act and come up with a fresh tariff policy to ensure that consumers are not taken for a ride.
Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power RK Singh, told BusinessLine that until now the Electricity Act has been deficient in protecting the rights of the people as it does not go beyond providing connections.
“But we are remedying that. It is the right of the consumer to know why load shedding is happening or tariffs are higher. The utilities can’t do these things randomly,” he added.
The amendments to the Electricity Act will focus on assuring cheap and quality power to consumers, he said. “We have gone through the proposed amendments. Some suggestions have been made and now we hope to place them before Parliament in the Monsoon Session,” he said
DBT of power subsidy
While the amendments to the Electricity Act will require Parliament’s nod, the introduction of the new tariff policy will only need the Union Cabinet’s approval.
Singh also said that the new tariff policy will be implemented under the existing Electricity Act. “The Act says that the Centre will come out with the tariff policy. We have one already; now, we are coming out with changes to it. The policy will also provide for Direct Benefit Transfer of power subsidy.”
This new policy will address the structural inefficiencies in the power distribution sector. “The policy will reduce the number of power slabs in the States; discoms will not be allowed to pass through on their losses (above 15 per cent) into the power tariffs; every connection has to be metered and billed; and if the State wishes to give any benefits, it should be through the Direct Benefit Transfer mechanism,” he said.
Singh said that the transfer of benefits such as a lower tariff for certain sections of households will make consumers more responsible and aware of their power consumption habits. It will also make it more difficult for power distribution companies to mask losses and root out inefficiencies in bill collection, he added.