Current News_Volume 2, Issue 4 : April 2017

Mon, 01/05/2017 - 15:13

Current News is a monthly bilingual newsletter of CAG as part of the Electricity Consumer Cell (ECC) initiative.

Highlights:

  • Functioning of the Power Sector
  • Power Subsidy Turns Cash
  • Delhi’s Inefficient Electricity Subsidies
  • Consumer Focus - Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum Case (CGRF)
  • ECC Voice - Capacity Building Program (Tamil)

Plus Publications/Cases:

India National Policies and Global Commitments, Renewable Energy, Equitable Growth and Gender Equality, Heinrich Boll Foundation

 

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Launch of Electricity Consumer Cells (ECCs)

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 09:01
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Organizer: ECC Tiruvallur, ECC Cuddalore and ECC Tirunelveli

Description: Official launch of ECCs, an independent advocacy Cell that educate and advice consumers on electricity governance

Speakers:

  1. Mr. Selvaraj, Trustee MMCRPC
  2. Mr. Dhanraj ECC Tiruvallur Coordinator
  3. Mr. Ashokan ECC Tiruvallur Expert
  4. Mr. Sam ECC Cuddalore Coordinator
  5. Mr. Kuzhalvaganan ECC Cuddalore Expert
  6. Mr. Venkatachalam ECC Tirunelveli Coordinator
  7. Mr. Shanmugam ECC Tirunelveli Expert

Participants: Local Consumers

Date and Time:

  1. Launch of ECC Tiruvallur: 07/01/2017, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
  2. Launch of ECC Cuddalore: 22/12/2016, 2:00 AM  to 4:00 PM
  3. Launch of ECC Tirunelveli: 23/12/2016, 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM

Location: Respective ECCs

Key Points of Discussion:

The Indian electricity sector has seen significant changes over the last decade triggered largely by the Electricity Act 2003. The Act allows anyone to set up power plants while making electricity transmission a government venture, it left the possibility of distribution to be either a government or private venture. The Act has also strengthened the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) which are empowered to set the tariff for various consumer categories. Pursuant to this, Tamil Nadu has set up the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC), Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company (TANGEDCO) and Tamil Nadu Transmission Company (TANTRANSCO).

The Act also has enabling provisions for participation of consumers in the functioning of the electricity sector such as electricity planning, policy, regulatory matters (price setting etc) and venues for grievance redressal. However, it is seen from experience that electricity consumers do not have adequate knowledge of these institutions and processes. Further, the lack of technical, policy, administrative and regulatory knowledge pose a serious challenge in enabling consumers to take advantage of the above to demand quality power supply.

As a result, there is a constant need to empower and educate electricity consumers about their rights. Education comprises making them aware of their rights to access and demand quality electricity services, provide quality inputs in the governance of the electricity sector while increasing consumer participation to push for transparency and accountability in its functioning.

Taking the above concerns into account, Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), which has been working in the electricity sector for the past two decades, launched an initiative to build the capacity of electricity consumers in Tamil Nadu. The overall objective of the work is to educate and empower consumer groups to ensure electricity sector in Tamil Nadu is functioning in an accountable and transparent manner, and in turn, to raise awareness among consumers.

Towards this end, CAG has set up Electricity Consumer Cells (ECCs) in three districts of Tamil Nadu, viz. Tiruvallur, Cuddalore, and Tirunelveli. Since its inception in December last year the ECCs, supported by an Electricity Advisor, provides advisory services for consumers on various electricity issues that affect their day to day lives. They will also promote an Electricity Consumer Network (ECN) of stakeholders and experts, and advocate for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The ECN will actively intervene to promote transparency and accountability and contribute to improvement in electricity governance in Tamil Nadu.

The ECC will work to demystify and disseminate information to a wide range of stakeholders related to electricity governance including administrative, policy, grievance redressal, and regulatory areas. It will conduct outreach meetings to reach out to consumers and civil society organizations, and impart knowledge through training and capacity building programmes so as to promote knowledge base nodes in the local area of operation. The ECC will engage in advocacy efforts to bring about transparency and accountability in electricity governance.

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First ECC Outreach Meeting - Cuddalore

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 09:00
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Date and Time: 12/01/2017, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Organizer: ECC Cuddalore

Managed by: Southern Consumer Organization for Protection and Empowerment (SCOPE)

Description: To inform consumers about the work of

Speakers:

  1. Mr Selvaraj, Trustee MMCRPC
  2. Mr Sam ECC Cuddalore Coordinator
  3. Mr Kuzhalvaganan ECC Cuddalore Expert
  4. Mr Narayanan ECC Cuddalore Support Staff
  5. Mr Das ECC Cuddalore Support Staff
  6. Mr  Sivaguru AEE TNEB
  7. Mr Dharman JE TNEB
  8. Mr Jonathan CAG ECC Field Coordinator

Participants:  Local consumers

Location: Cuddalore

Key Points of Discussion:

ECC Cuddalore is managed by Southern Consumer Organization for Protection and Empowerment (SCOPE). The meeting took place in a residential area with a huge crowd. ECC Cuddalore organized the event on Pongal Day, a festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu that signifies new beginnings. The meeting was preceded by ECC coordinator, expert and local TNEB officials. It has been said that in general people in Cuddalore are interested to learn and know about public services. This makes the work easier and interesting for the ECC to educate and strengthen the capacity of the electricity consumers in this region.

The consumers in Cuddalore have the tendency to question the way in which public services are delivered but these are mostly limited to roads and other infrastructure. It is felt that such understanding and proactiveness need to be extended for electricity services as well. It is still unclear why people are so reluctant to talk about electricity issues. This could primarily be because of the low level understanding about the sector and working of the utility. Thus there is a need to not only create awareness but also support consumers to know their right and responsibilities. People were informed that this will be the primary aim of the ECC, to educate and support the consumers in getting quality electricity services.

Mr Das spoke about the importance of the ECC and how it can address the consumer complaints related to electricity. He was open enough to listen to the suggestions of the consumers to strengthen the work of the ECC. He clearly said that the ECC will primarily act as an active mediator between the consumers and utility so as to strengthen the relationship between consumer and the EB officials.

Special guest of the event Mr Sivaguru from TNEB said that generally the officials in EB are busy and they do respond to the complaints promptly but in some cases they might be in position where they lose track. In such cases, ECC will guide and advice the consumers to get things done in a more efficient manner. It was good to see officials coming forward to promote the ECCs and felt that ECC will support them in rendering good services to the consumers. He emphasized the mutual cooperation of the EB, ECC and consumers to make this initiative a success

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First ECC District Level Review Meeting

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 08:58
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Date and Time: 28/01/2017, 9 AM to 1:30 PM

Organizer: CAG

Description: To discuss about the progress of the ECCs and understand the various challenges faced by the ECCs. The discussion led to some possible solutions to address these challenges

Speakers:

  1. Mr Selvaraj, Trustee MMCRPC
  2. Mr Dhanraj ECC Tiruvallur Coordinator
  3.  Mr Ashokan ECC Tiruvallur Expert
  4. Mr Sam ECC Cuddalore Coordinator
  5. Mr Kuzhalvaganan ECC Cuddalore Expert
  6. Mr Venkatachalam ECC Tirunelveli Coordinator
  7. Mr Shanmugam ECC Tirunelveli Expert
  8. Mr Sivakumar State level ECC Expert
  9. Mr Gunasekaran State level ECC Expert

Participants:  Local consumers

Location: Savera Hotel, Chennai

Key Points of Discussion:

The district level meeting was mainly organized to review and understand the different challenges faced by the ECCs since its inception in addressing the broader objectives of the initiative. The purpose of the meeting was to make clear of the roles and responsibilities of the ECC experts and coordinators.

Mr Vishnu briefed upon the progress of the ECCs since November and emphasized on the primary aim of ECCs in educating and advising electricity consumers. The basic rationale for forming the ECC is to completely transfer and share the knowledge and capacity of CAG to the ECCs. The awareness materials and initial round of promoting the Cells were successfully carried out. It is good to see positive feedback from both the consumers and local EB officials about ECCs. Statistic pertaining to the electricity complaints received was also presented so as to encourage the ECCs to further extend the work to a wider group of consumers. A majority of the complaints received as of now is primarily from domestic but since Cuddalore and Tirunelveli are agriculture area, it is felt that there needs a push to receive complaints from the agriculture category as well.

CAG distributed 30 posters each to all the three ECCs on ten different electricity topics like DSOP regulations, solar energy, electricity theft, Consumer Grievieance Redressal Forum(CGRF) and Electricity Ombudsman, online  bill payment and availing new service connection through online.

ECC state level experts Mr Gunasekaran and Mr Sivakumar spoke about the role of Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) and management of finances by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO). The discussion interestingly led to engaging discussions about various administrative issues. They also expressed their confidence and goodwill that ECCs would serve as a very good platform to address the various institutional gap in the electricity sector.

All the ECC experts shared their specific views about the ECCs. Since they have wide experiences about the sector and as well engaging with the communities they shared their perspectives about how ECC can efficiently act a mediator between the consumers and the utility. The cooperation of both the consumers and the utility is important for the ECC to function smoothly.   

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First ECC Outreach Meeting - Tiruvallur

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 08:56
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Date and Time: 18/02/2017, 10 AM to 2:30 PM

Organizer: ECC Tiruvallur

Managed by: Madras Metropolitan Consumer Rights Protection Centre (MMCRPC)

Description: To inform consumers about the work of ECCs

 Speakers:

  1. Selvaraj, Trustee MMCRPC
  2. Ashokan, ECC Tiruvallur Expert

Participants: Local Consumers

Location: Christ King Matriculation School, Tiruvallur

Key Points of Discussion:

The meeting was to raise awareness among consumers on ECC related work and to discuss electricity matters. ECC Tiruvallur Expert Mr. Ashokan educated consumers on solar energy, power deficit in the state of Tamil Nadu, generation challenges, poor financial position of TNEB etc. He emphasized on the importance of ECC in helping consumers and also shared the vision of educated and well informed consumers being able to resolve complaints on their own without any assistance. During the discussion, a majority of the people was of the opinion that it is the responsibility of the service provider to take care of its consumer; however, there is a failure to do so. Consumers are unaware of the sector and should develop the curiosity to learn and ask questions on various aspects of electricity on their own. This will enable consumers to know their rights and responsibilities and they themselves can demand for better and quality services without any assistance.

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First ECC Outreach Meeting - Tirunelveli

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 08:55
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Date and Time: 26/03/2017, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Organizer: ECC Tirunelveli

Managed by: Tirunelveli District Consumer Rights Protection Sangam

Description: To inform consumers about the work of ECCs

Speakers:

  1. Mr Selvaraj, Trustee MMCRPC
  2. Mr Venkatachalam ECC Tirunelveli Coordinator
  3. Mr Shanmugam ECC Tirunelveli Expert

Participants:  Local consumers

Location: Little Flower Higher Secondary School, Tirunelveli

Key Points of Discussion:

ECC Tirunelveli conducted its first outreach meeting at Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Tirunelveli as part of a monthly programme named ‘Naam Arinthukolvom’ conducted by the school. The school conducts this program during every month to discuss about various public issues. The event was inaugurated by the school chairman Mr Mariya Susie and gave an introduction about the need to create awareness about the electricity services particularly to the rural consumers.

ECC Tirunelveli expert Mr Shanmugam and Mr Venkatachalam participated in the event. They informed the consumers comprising of both children and adults about various electricity issues like subsidies and free electricity, door lock, billing and tariff related issues, name change among others. Mr Shanmugam responded to some common electricity issues and complaints in Tirunelveli region raised by the consumers.

Since a lot of school children actually expressed interest in the topic the ECC and the management of the school agreed to conduct frequent training sessions to educate them about the electricity sector. 

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First ECC Capacity Building and Training Programme

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 08:53
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Date and Time: 22/04/2017, 10 AM to 2:30 PM

Organizer: ECC Tiruvallur

Managed by: Madras Metropolitan Consumer Rights Protection Centre (MMCRPC)

Description: To create awareness about key issues of electricity regulation and governance. Demonstration on energy efficiency and advantages of on grid solar energy for household sector

Speakers:

  1. Mr Selvaraj, Trustee MMCRPC
  2.  Mr Ashokan ECC Tiruvallur Expert
  3. Mr Dhanraj ECC Tiruvallur Coordinator
  4. Mr Sam ECC Cuddalore Coordinator
  5. Mr Shanmugam ECC Tirunelveli Expert
  6. Mr Venkatachalam ECC Tirunelveli Coordinator
  7. Mr Sivakumar State level ECC Expert
  8. Mr Gunasekaran State level ECC Expert
  9. Mr Gautham, Top Solar, Renewable Energy Entrepreneur

Participants: Local EB officials and local consumers

Location: St Mary’s Nursery and Primary School, Old Washermenpet

Key Points of Discussion:

ECC state level experts Mr Gunasekaran and Mr Sivakumar presented a talk on the regulatory commission, implications of the recent ARR tariff petition and some financial aspects of TNEB. Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), the mandated share by TANGEDCO to purchase power from renewable sources of energy, needs some clarity as there is general ambiguity in distinguishing between solar and non-solar RPO. RPO needs to be strictly mandated and overlooked to achieve the yearly targets.

Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are financially the worst performing states. The Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses figures are dubious and should be estimated correctly for better forecasting of demand and supply. The awareness about the sector is not only low among the consumers but also among the officials. Despite increasing capacity additions, some places in rural and semi urban areas still face frequent power cuts and this is primarily attributed to the lack of human resources and purely giving importance to technology.  Another important reason for the deterioration of the utility is the lack of coordination among the officials in implementing policies and attending consumer complaints.

The speakers jointly stated that it was truly interesting to see strong support and interest of the local EB officials in creating awareness to the consumers. A resource person from the TNEB briefed upon energy efficiency and demonstrated consumers about reducing electricity charges by switching from incandescent bulb to energy efficient LED bulbs.

They also took initiatives to distribute pamphlets on energy efficiency in the local language and set up a stall that sold fans, LED bulbs ad tube lights promoted by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a central government body. The consumers got brief understanding about energy efficiency and how one can reduce carbon footprint and at the same time pay less for the electricity used. A solar energy entrepreneur demonstrated on the advantages of grid connected solar rooftops and how exactly solar panel works.

ECC Tirunelveli expert Mr Shanmugam raised his concerns about the differences in the functioning of the EB in the rural and urban areas. He made it a point that the services in the rural areas need to be rendered in the same way as it is in urban areas and requested the officials not to misuse the weakness of the rural population. The local EB officials also directly interacted with consumers and requested the consumers to cooperate with them during critical times in order to handle their complaints efficiently.

During the discussion on queries related to tariff, the experts stated that the political scenario is very sensitive in Tamil Nadu and unfortunately the government intervention in policy matters is high and there is little say by the TNERC in key matters relating to subsidies and tariff. The amendments relating to cross subsidy in the Electricity Act 2003 can easily be changed as per interests of the government and utility. This needs immediate attention. Tamil Nadu is one of the few states that is very much reluctant to increase tariff and keeps the rates mostly in status quo. The government keeps tariff for the domestic sector at very low and charges relatively high price for commercial and industrial sector i.e. cross subsidy. This cross subsidy seems to be high in Tamil Nadu and hence lot of industries is going out.

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ECC Outreach Activities

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 08:51
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Date and Time: 16/02/2017 and 22/02/2017

Organizer: ECC Cuddalore

Managed by: Southern Consumer Organization for Protection and Empowerment (SCOPE)

Description: ECC Cuddalore carried out intensive outreach activities by distributing over 800 ECC pamphlets to college students at Shree Raghavendra Arts and Science College in Keezhamoongiladi and also to the general public. This was basically to promote the work of the ECCs to people in Cuddalore. The members of the ECC Cuddalore distributed these pamphlets to the public in the busy main town area at places such as market and bus stands. They also interacted with some people about the initiative and how they can be approached. The pamphlets were also given to few shopkeepers on request.

 

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Current News Volume III, Issue 03: March 2018

Sat, 01/04/2017 - 16:22

Highlights

  • Solar Panel Quality Defects - Visual Inspection (Part - I).
  • TN Power Regulator for Curbs on Wind Power Banking as Discom Losses Mount. 
  • Now, India is the Third Largest Electricity Producer ahead of Russia, Japan. 
  • Consumer Focus - Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum Case (CGRF)
  • ECC Voice - Electricity Charges for Various Units. (Tamil).

Plus Publications/Cases:
Energy Statistics, March 2018.

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