Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) organized a State level Electricity Consumer Cell (ECC) meeting on March 21, 2018, at Raj Park, Chennai. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the progress of the ECCs and to understand the various challenges faced by the ECCs. The meeting focused on the progress of the Electricity Consumer Cells of Tiruvallur, Cuddalore, and Tirunelveli from December 2016 - February 2018.

Mr. Vishnu Mohan Rao, Senior Researcher from Citizen consumer and civic Action Group, briefed participants about the functions and work of the ECCs. He explained the objectives of conducting the meeting.

Mr. G.N.Bharath Ram, Researcher from CAG, presented the statistical analysis of the consumer advisories. He explained the classification of consumer complaints i.e. resolved, pending, and closed. Resolved advisories refer to the complaints which are solved by the ECCs with the help of TNEB officials within a stipulated time period. Closed advisories refer to the complaints which are addressed to TNEB by the ECCs for a permanent solution; for example bulbs for the street lighting and voltage fluctuations. Total advisories received by all the ECCs from December 2016 to February 2018 is 456, out of which Cuddalore registered 169 no’s, Tiruvallur registered 145 no’s, Tirunelveli registered 142 no’s.

Mr. Shanmugam, Advisor, ECC Tirunelveli, expressed the challenges and difficulties in registering advisories, enquiries, and arranging outreach meetings in different places. Major advisories were resolved in few days and some took its own time limit to get resolved. For example, assessors of TANGEDCO not following the standard billing cycles, due to that the bill amount is higher than the expected. The concerned consumer drafted a letter to Assistant Engineer regarding this problem and also submitted a copy of the letter to ECC, which will be helpful to contact the concerned officials. On the other hand, few complainants hesitated to disclose their details while registering their complaints over phone, which are difficult to follow-up after resolving it.

Mr. Balasubramaniam, Advisor, ECC Cuddalore, spoke about the powers of the Deputy Engineer(DE) in his jurisdiction. DE has certain powers in laying poles on a street/road which will benefit the consumers. Also, he mentioned the consumer rights in contacting the AE/JE for resolving a problem and the duration of the resolving a problem. He gave few examples of the complaints registered in ECC, especially the Street lights which are not working for several months. He expressed his challenges in connecting the local bodies and electricity board to solve the street light complaint.

Mr.Ashokan, Advisor, ECC Tiruvallur, expressed his views on accomplishing the objectives of ECC. He spoke about his experiences in working with the Electricity board officials in solving the complaints. Creating awareness on the safety, energy conservation and electricity rights was his primary objective during the outreach meetings conducted by ECC Tiruvallur. ECC Tiruvallur has submitted all type of complaints in which infrastructure complaints – pole and transformer had registered large in numbers. He also instructed the consumers to address the respected AE/JE regarding the complaint before registering with ECC.

Mr.nagarajan, Volunteer, ECC Tiruvallur, expressed his difficulties in arranging the outreach meetings at the village level. As a volunteer, he registered his first complaint to ECC Tiruvallur about the low sagging of Low Tension line on a narrow lane. It was first reported to the concerned officials about the problem, after many follow-ups it wasn’t solved. Later, he registered the same complaint to ECC with the photocopy of the documents submitted to the EB. Most of the complaints registered to ECC are high value complaints – Setting up of transformer, low sagging wire/cables.

Mr.Gunasekaran, State level ECC Expert, delivered a speech on the consumer rights which are mentioned in the Electricity Act and Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum. Each ECC’s should inform the public about the grievance day conducted at the Collector’s office once in a month in their outreach meetings. He concluded the session by giving few suggestions to the ECCs in organizing the outreach meeting areas.