NEW DELHI: People in the national capital could start getting paid for long unscheduled power cuts starting this summer. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi government on Thursday said the long-debated policy to compensate consumers had been finally cleared by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. A similar scheme announced earlier by the AAP government was cancelled because it had been notified without his signature.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the first-of-its-kind policy “a revolutionary and very innovative” decision that would make power distribution companies directly accountable to the people.
Under this policy, power distribution utilities are required to fix any problem within 60 minutes.
If the distribution company isn’t able to meet this deadline, then they would have to pay a penalty of Rs 50 per hour to each consumer who files a claim for the first two hours followed by Rs 100 per hour after two hours.
There are three private companies that supply electricity in Delhi — BSES Yamuna Power Limited, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited.
Because Delhi doesn’t have smart meters, people will have to log their complaints with the power distribution company as soon as the power supply is disrupted. This can be done by sending a “no current” text message to the designated phone number, email, phone app or a website along with their basic details.The power distribution company shall respond when the power supply resumes.
“Whenever the permissible time limit is over”, the company shall automatically credit the penalty into the account of the consumers without any manual intervention.
The penalty shall be adjusted in the consumer’s monthly bill.
Consumers can complain to the power regulator if the power distribution company slips up. If they do convince the power regulator about their claim, power companies can be ordered to pay a Rs 5,000 fine or up to five times the initial penalty amount.
“The most important thing in a scheme is its workability. This is workable, especially if you lodge the complaint. Then the full audit trail is these,” Varsha Joshi, who heads the city’s power department said.
Ms Joshi said the system would be completely automated once smart power meters are universally used. These would be able to send data remotely to that “second-to-second data” could be analysed from the command centre.
In theory, power companies won’t have to pay the fines if they limit each power cut to less than 60 minutes.
On Twitter, Ms Joshi said this shouldn’t be a worry since this assumes that power companies like to disrupt power supply.
Power cuts happen in Delhi when local lines or transformers develop faults due to overloading the system. “Delay in repair due to imperfect efficiency would be the main reason for prolonging the cut,” Ms Joshi tweeted.