In a few months from now, consumers in the city will not only have the option of choosing their power supplier, but will also be able to choose the source of energy. If the amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003, are approved by Parliament, consumers will have the power to make choices.
Amendment to Section 42 of the Act will allow more than one service provider to operate in an area unlike the ‘one discom-one area’ practice at present.
Currently there are only three discoms in the entire city, with areas earmarked for their operations.
“The Union Power Ministry wants to present the amendments for consent of Parliament in the upcoming Budget session. If the changes are approved, it will not only mean more choices for the consumers, but will also open up the market for other players,” a discom official said.
The amendment will allow consumers in East Delhi who are currently supplied power by BSES Yamuna Power Limited, to opt for Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited or BSES Rajdhani Power Limited or even a new company, as their service provider.
Allowing more service providers will mean competition and give the discoms a reason to augment their services.
“Factors like the fuel price adjustment, earnings of the discom and the overall quality of service have an impact on the tariffs, as on date the power purchase adjustment varies for companies and therefore there is a slight difference in tariffs too. But once the amendment is allowed, consumers will have the choice to pick their discom. They can even choose two companies to supply power simultaneously,” the official said.
Which means a consumer can have power sourced from two discoms for different slots of the day. With the market being thrown open, the companies will also have to improve their performance to be able to retain and gain consumers.
“It will be like the airline or the telecom industry, where there is competition and the consumers have a choice to pick the one that suits them. This practice [in the power sector] is already being followed successfully in many countries, it is only in India, where barring a few cities, the distribution of power still rests with the government,” the official said.
The amendment will allow companies dealing with renewable energy to enter the field as well.
“Consumers can even opt for renewable and conventional sources of energy, usually power from renewable sources is more expensive, but if the consumer wants to contribute to the cause of green energy, they can even subscribe to renewable sources for a specified period. It will be like opting for organically grown food items, which are expensive, but have their own advantage,” the official explained.
Unlike the current scheme of open access, which is only available for consumers with high sanctioned loads, the modification will allow all consumers of various sanctioned load strength to benefit.
“As on date only those consumers who have a connection of 1 MW and above can make use of open access. Also, there are too many grey areas like wheeling charges etc., that make open access less appealing and there have been no takers for it. But the amendments will make the process much simpler and there will be guidelines in place for what the consumers need to pay apart from the energy usage charge for getting power from different sources,” the official said.