Newly amended Electricity Rules and rooftop solar power

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Newly amended Electricity Rules and rooftop solar power Blog Image

What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in news?
  • Key highlights of the amendment

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Ministry of Power has notified amendments to the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020.
  • In order to accelerate the installation of rooftop solar projects and empower consumers, the amendment contains provisions on connections in residential societies and solving complaints on meter readings.
  • The amendments came a week after PM Modi launched PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana earlier this month.
    • This scheme will provide households with a subsidy of up to 40% to install rooftop solar panels.

Key highlights of the amendment

  • Installing rooftop solar made easier and faster
    • Earlier, DISCOMs were required to conduct a feasibility study for rooftop solar projects within 20 days of an application being filed, and then intimate the outcome to the applicant.
    • A technical feasibility study determines whether a property is physically and financially suitable for the installation of solar panels.
    • The latest amendments have reduced that period to 15 days. Moreover, if the study is not completed by then, it shall be presumed that the proposal is technically feasible.
      • In other words, DISCOMs are no longer required to complete a technical feasibility study before accepting an application to begin the installation of solar panels.
    • The rules also note that solar PV systems up to a capacity of 10 kilowatts shall be deemed accepted without requiring a study.
    • DISCOMs can also include expenditure on strengthening distribution infrastructure for rooftop solar projects (with a capacity of up to 5 kilowatts or higher) in its revenue requirement.
      • The exact maximum capacity shall be prescribed by each state electricity regulatory commission.
      • In other words, the costs of strengthening distribution infrastructure for rooftop solar projects with a capacity of up to 5 kilowatts will be borne by DISCOMs, and this can be covered through its operations.
  • Empowering consumers in residential societies
    • The new rules that allow people living in residential societies to choose between having separate connections for each household or having one connection for the entire society.
      • This choice will be made through a fair voting process organized by the distribution company.
    • If the owners opt for a single-point connection for the whole premises, then the association overseeing a residential society will be responsible for metering, billing, and collection of the amount due on a no-profit-no-loss basis.
      • In the case of individual connections, the DISCOM will be responsible for those tasks.
    • The amendments also require DISCOMs to install an additional meter in case a consumer complains of meter readings not reflecting actual consumption.
      • If the meter is found to be inaccurate, the excess or deficit charges shall be adjusted in the subsequent bills, as per existing rules.
  • New electricity connections to be provided more quickly
    • The amended rules have reduced the period for obtaining a new electricity connection or modifying an existing one in metropolitan areas from seven to three days.
    • In other municipal areas, this has reduced from 15 to seven days, and in rural areas from 30 to 15 days.
    • In rural areas with hilly terrain, however, the period will continue to remain 30 days.
  • Electric Vehicles mentioned for the first time in the rules
    • DISCOMs are required to provide a separate connection for the supply of electricity to an EV charging point if requested by a consumer and within the revised period as mentioned above.
    • In other words, EV owners in New Delhi, Bangalore, or other metropolitan cities can now get a new electricity connection to charge their cars in three days.

Q1) What is DISCOM?

DISCOM stands for Distribution Company. They are companies that buy electricity from producers and sell it to consumers.

Q2) What is a solar photovoltaic (PV) system?

A solar photovoltaic (PV) system is a power system that uses sunlight to generate electricity.

Source: 3 ways in which the newly amended Electricity Rules boost rooftop solar power; empower consumers & EV owners | PIB