DISCOMs' Legally Obligated to Supply 247 Uninterrupted Power to Mid-Sized Cities

The Ministry of Power issued a gazette notification that distribution licensees must ensure 24/7 uninterrupted power supply to all the consumers residing in cities with 100,000 or more residents to prevent the need for polluting diesel generators.

The ministry notified the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Amendment Rules, 2022, by exercising its powers under Section 176 of the Electricity Act, 2003. The amended rules introduce key additions and revisions to the Electricity (Rights of Consumer) Rules, 2020.

Accordingly, the State Commission must give the trajectory of the system average interruption frequency index and system average interruption duration index for such cities.

Diesel to cleaner technologies

According to the new sub-clause (6), consumers using diesel generators as essential backup power must attempt to shift to cleaner technology such as renewable energy with battery storage within five years from the date of commencement of these rules or as per the timelines given by the state commission for such replacement based on the reliability of supply in that city under the DISCOM jurisdiction.

Power supply reliability

Under the new sub-clause (4), the state commissions can consider the customer average interruption duration index, customer average interruption frequency index, and momentary average interruption frequency index as additional indicators of supply reliability. The minimum interruption time for calculating additional reliability indicators must be as specified by the state commissions. If the state commission does not specify the interruption time, three minutes will be considered interruption time for calculating the additional reliability indicators.

Charges to ensure reliable power supply

The new sub-clause (5) notifies that the state commissions must have an online mechanism to review distribution licensees’ reliability indices. State commissions can consider a separate reliability charge for the distribution company if they require funds for investment in the infrastructure to ensure a reliable power supply to the consumers.

Temporary connections

The new sub-clause (7) details the process of granting temporary connections to the consumers for construction activities or any provisional usage. The clause adds that distribution licensees must simplify such processes. These connections must be given on priority and not later than 48 hours. The limit can be extended to seven days in case augmentation of the distribution system is required.

The temporary connection must be through a prepayment meter or consumer meters per Central Electricity Authority (Installation and Operation of Meters) Regulations.

Interruptions defined

The Amended Rules have new sub-clauses defining the customer average interruption duration index, customer average interruption frequency index, the momentary average frequency interruption frequency index, system average interruption duration index, and the system average interruption frequency index.

In October, the Ministry of Power issued a draft proposal for amending the Electricity Act, 2021, to ensure that distribution companies provide round-the-clock uninterrupted power supply to all consumers and prevent the need for diesel generators.

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