Delhi’s residents will have to wait longer to be compensated for unscheduled power-cuts. Even six months after its announcement, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) has not made much headway on the compensation provision.

Under the Electricity Act, 2003, the power to fix tariffs and enforce penalty for under-performance by a distribution company (Discom) is vested in the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Regulator’s discretion

So even though the Delhi government had announced a compensation for unscheduled power-cuts to consumers, it will not be enforced by the Discoms unless the DERC decides to.

Sources say the Delhi government has written twice to the DERC since April to make changes to the law to enforce the compensation clause.

“The DERC got a new chairman in July. This could be one of the reasons for the delay,” an official told BusinessLine .

In early July, Satyendra Singh Chauhan, a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court, was appointed Chairman of the DERC. The earlier appointee was removed by the then Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, in 2016. The post of the DERC Chairman remained vacant since.

“We have been continuously following up with the DERC regarding this,” the Delhi government official added.

Discoms’ fears

Delhi’s power distribution companies have also been apprehensive of the proposed compensation diktat. Companies say there are multiple technicalities that need to be sorted out before the provision is enabled.

“It can be a logistical nightmare for the Discoms if claims by individual customers for compensation are admitted. What if there is a supply outage on the part of the power producers? How will the Discoms be able to handle an outage due to a natural calamity? Clarity is needed on the scope of responsibility on the Discoms,” a private Discom official said.

“There have been representations to the DERC regarding the same,” another private Discom official added.

Delhi govt proposal

Power to Delhi is supplied by NDMC, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd. In April, the Delhi government had proposed penalising power distribution companies by ₹50 per hour for the first two hours and ₹100 for each subsequent hour of unscheduled power cut. The compensation payment will be adjusted against the current or future bills.

The proposal had received the approval of the Lieutenant Governor and Delhi became the first State in the country to institutionalise a penalty on power distribution companies for a default. This initiative is in sync with the thinking of the Narendra Modi-led government. In fact, once implemented, other States are expected to adopt the Delhi model.

A Delhi government official had said, “The penalty will be levied after notification by the DERC. Individual complaints are eligible for compensation. A group complaint is not required to force the Discom to pay up.”