Electricity Consumer Cell (Phase IV) - An update

Tue, 11/01/2022 - 19:11
Edition
October - December 2021

Introduction

Electricity Consumers Cells (ECCs), an initiative of CAG, started in November 2016 with the central objective of enabling consumers in Tamil Nadu to improve  their quality and quantity of participation in the electricity sector. As part of the initiative, so far, seven ECCs have been set up in seven different districts in TamilNadu. Three ECCs were launched in December 2016 across the three districts of Tiruvallur, Cuddalore, and Tirunelveli. Subsequently, In 2018, two more ECCs were set up in the districts of Salem and Tiruvannamalai. Finally, In 2019, ECCs in Vellore and Trichy were initiated. 

ecc

The main activities of ECCs include: 

  1. Articulating electricity related problems faced by consumers and subsequent issues taken up by civil society organizations (CSOs) at the administrative level, 
  2. Creating awareness and improving consumer understanding around electricity topics such as electricity governance, energy conservation and energy efficiency, among others, 
  3. Promoting renewable energy solutions such as rooftop solar among  residential consumers and solar agricultural pump sets among the farmers, 
  4. Empowering CSOs and electricity consumers alike with increased understanding of the electricity sector and the many avenues for public participation that the sector provides, 
  5. Enhancing awareness levels of young adults in schools and colleges around renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation.

Amidst growing concerns around the global pandemic,  ECC activities were  reworked in accordance with the COVID - 19 regulations in the respective districts. This involved rethinking the nature and approach to the activities carried out by the ECCs on a regular basis. The approach adopted has been outlined below:  

  1. Advice and support to consumers around their electricity grievances were extended largely on call. In-person consultations, if required, were held with social distancing protocols in place.  
  2. Awareness campaigns on electricity governance, energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy were initiated through several media platforms such as newspapers, television channels, handbills, posters, pamphlets and  social media., 
  3. Virtual out-reach meetings were conducted through online platforms (google meet) in order  to avoid social gatherings.

Advisory Services

Between December 2020 and December 2021, 1108 complaints were registered, out of which 66% were from men and 34% from women. An average of 10 complaints per month are being registered in person and over the phone. 83.21% of the complaints received have been resolved and 16.79% of the complaints have been closed because they were area-level complaints, involving multi departmental decisions and therefore requiring more time. 

 

Sl.no 

Status

Resolved

Closed

Total

1

Tiruvallur

123

21

144

2

Cuddalore

112

18

130

3

Tirunelveli

149

27

176

4

Tiruvannamalai

132

36

168

5

Salem

132

21

153

6

Vellore

129

28

157

7

Trichy

145

35

180

Total

922

186

1108

(Fig.1.Complaints Success Ratio (December 2020 - December 2021)

 

Nature of the complaints

The nature of complaints registered between December 2020 and December 2021, include: 

  1. 329 power quality related - power supply failure, interruption of supply, voltage and frequency,  
  2. 226 service related - new service connection, agriculture connection, temporary supply & shifting of supply, 
  3. 220 infrastructure related - low tension & high tension wires, poles, transformer, street lights, d) 151 billing related - billing problem, name transfer, change of tariff, assessor dates, 
  4. 95 meter related - meter fault, meter reading, 
  5. 87 miscellaneous complaints - street lights etc

.(Fig.2.Nature of complaints)

 

Examples of Advisory Services

Mr.A, a domestic consumer from Munnirpallam, Tirunelveli district, had contacted TANGEDCO officials over phone about a frequent power outage problem in his area. But the consumer had not received a  satisfactory response on his grievance. Subsequently, Mr.A contacted the ECC Advisor regarding his outage problems. . In response, the ECC Advisor instructed and helped Mr.A to submit a written complaint to the local section office detailing the issue faced. The advisor also contacted the Junior Engineer(JE) in order to support the grievance redressal process.  Based on the complaint, the JE and the TANGEDCO officials inspected the area and rectified the problem. 

Mr.B, a consumer in Tirupadripulyur, Cuddalore district, registered a complaint with ECC Cuddalore regarding the delay in  effecting a new service connection for his newly constructed commercial complex. Mr.B said that he had met with the Assistant Engineer (AE) and provided  sufficient documents for his new service connection request. Yet, the consumer continued to face delays in availing his new service connection.  The ECC Advisor took up the complaint and contacted the AE to accelerate  the process. With the help of ECC Cuddalore,  the new service connection at Mr.B’s complex was effected within two days.

Mr.C, an agricultural consumer from Thottiyam Taluk, Trichy district, had registered a complaint with ECC Trichy about a low hanging power cable in his farmland. The ECC Advisor and Mr.C met the Junior Engineer (JE) in their local EB office and submitted a complaint. Within two days, the TANGEDCO workers inspected all the agricultural fields in that area and rectified the problem.   

Mode of Complaints

Between December 2020 and December 2021, 982 consumers contacted the ECCs over the phone while 126 consumers met the ECC in person and registered their complaints. . Most consumers who  registered complaints with the ECCs said that they came to know about ECC and its services through the newspapers, televisions, or handbill distributions. It was observed that e-outreach meetings and social media campaigns had also contributed to the increased traction. 

Consumer interactions with ECCs

During August 2021 - December 2021, ECCs conducted 35 outreach meetings in various parts of the districts. These meetings aimed to educate consumers on electricity rights and create awareness on renewable energy, especially rooftop solar and solar agriculture pumpsets. ECCs also conducted virtual meetings due to the ongoing pandemic and state-wide restrictions around the same. E-outreach meetings were conducted on online  platforms such as zoom and google meet. A total of 42 e-outreach meetings were conducted between December 2020 - July 2021. Overall, 77 outreach meetings were held as part of ECCs’ effort in this phase. This has helped several consumers resolve their grievances without any inconveniences, despite  the pandemic situation. 

These online meetings also created awareness around the importance of energy efficiency and energy saving. In response, consumers who attended online meetings shared their experiences of practising energy efficiency and energy saving measures in their households.  They further opined that adopting such measures have significantly benefited them, especially considering the increased energy consumption with more members of the household spending most of their time  indoors. Participants who attended these programmes include retired government employees, self help group women, teachers association, small scale traders association and other domestic consumers.

Spreading the Word

Between December 2020 - May 2021, information about the ECC and its activities were published on several platforms at the district level. Eminent newspapers targeting a wide range of consumers, carried publication about the ECC, its objectives and the contact details of the ECC members. Information about ECCs were also carried via 1) local television channels as scrolling or video messages and 2) printed handbills with information about the ECCs which were placed inside newspapers and circulated across the respective districts.

Webinars

ECC Tirunelveli conducted a webinar on ‘Energy Efficiency & Electrical Safety’ in June 2021 with 50 consumers. Mr.Petchimuthu, Assistant Executive Engineer (Safety), TANGEDCO was the keynote speaker of the webinar. He emphasised on the importance of electrical safety and highlighted a few consumer practises that should be avoided such as hanging wet clothes on wires, not checking if the house is grounded/earthed properly , among others. 

ECC Salem conducted a webinar on ‘Renewable energy: Solar energy and its usage’ in June 2021 with 50 consumers. Mr. Saravanan, NIRT Solar Pvt Ltd was the keynote speaker of the webinar. The advantages of Solar energy, on-grid and off-grid installation and its billing mechanisms were discussed during the webinar. 

Energy Clubs

In order to promote energy conservation and energy efficiency solutions among students and young adults, five energy clubs were inaugurated across three districts, among students from class 6 and above. The objective of this initiative is to bring younger minds into energy conversation, renewable energy etc through activity-based online sessions. The clubs were launched in June 2021 and have so far focused on behavioural changes that can improve energy conservation. In addition to the online sessions, an Inter-club poster making competition was conducted on the topic of ‘Energy conservation at home.’ The competition saw an active participation from over 120 students across five schools.  In the next phase, the energy club initiative will focus on introducing energy audit exercises, experience sharing sessions and activity-based online sessions. Additionally, more topics such as energy efficiency and renewable energy will be explored in the clubs.

Conclusion

The ECCs largely use a combination of information dissemination, network building, training, capacity building, research, and advocacy work to empower electricity consumers, CSOs and local communities to participate in the electricity sector. The initiative for over 5 years, has been informing consumers about the technical, administrative, regulatory aspects of the electricity sector, whilst supporting their efforts to seek grievance redressal for electricity issues. In its  phase IV, the initiative has had to reinvent itself in order to reach consumers and provide the required advisory support. Despite the lack of physical meetings, ECCs’ e-outreach efforts, on-call support and multi-media campaigns have gone a long way in reaching thousands of electricity consumers across seven districts of TN.

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