Come next month, the body tackling disputes between electricity consumers and distributions companies (discoms) will undergo changes that will remove the influence of power firms on the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF). Time and again, the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) has been accused of being biased towards the discoms. The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) is now formulating guidelines to separate the forum from the discoms and introduce new enforcement mechanisms that were so far missing in the powers that rested in the hands of the forum.
To ensure that the CGRF is above all biases, the DERC, in its new regulation, has decided to select the commissioner of the CGRF independently. Currently, the discoms submit a list of recommendations for the commissioner's post to the DERC. The DERC then chooses the commissioner and other members from the list suggested by the discoms. "In the new guidelines, we will not ask the discoms for names. In fact the commissioner and other members of the commission will be chosen by DERC itself," DERC chairman PD Sudhakar said. He added that the salaries to the members of the commission will also be paid by the DERC, instead of the discoms.
The new rules will also enable consumers to log their complaints online, instead of having to go to the office of the CGRF. They will now have to visit the forum's office only on the day of the hearing.
The new guideline also gives new enforcement mechanisms. Currently if the discom fails to adhere to the direction given by the commission, there is no mechanism whatsoever for the commission to crack its whip on the discoms. "Under section 142 of the Electricity Act, the commission will be empowered to impose a fine of upto Rs 1 lakh, if they (discoms) fail to implement the orders of the commission," added the chairman.
The resident bodies of Delhi have been demanding punitive penalties for the discoms for their irregularities for quite some time now.
The Discoms will also not be allowed to claim ARR (Aggregate Revenue Requirement) from the DERC anymore for the claims that they have settled for the consumers. Currently if any discom awards compensation to a consumer, it makes a claim for the same in the ARR. The new regulation will not allow the discom to do so anymore. The claims henceforth will be treated as a part of revenue component.