CAG recently started working on a project to empower consumers of electricity by educating them about the various aspects of the electricity sector. Electricity consumers are educated about the administrative, judicial and regulatory process of the electricity sector of Tamil Nadu. To address this broader objective, CAG has incubated Electricity Consumer Cells (ECCs) in three districts of Tamil Nadu viz; Tiruvalllur, Tirunelveli, Thiruvannamalai, Salem, and Cuddalore in partnership with three consumer organizations. Through the formation of the ECCs, CAG aims to create awareness and demystify electricity process and concepts among the members of the Electricity Consumer Network (ECN). The ECCs, along with the experts, provide advisory services to the local consumers on various electricity issues that and eases the process of interaction between the utility and consumers. CAG also plan to conduct periodic outreach meeting and capacity building program to train the local community so as to promote transparency and accountability in the electricity governance. In simple words, ECCs will serve as an active mediator to take forward the concerns of the consumers to the service provider.
The quality of civil society participation in electricity administration and grievance redressal mechanism at the district levels in Tamil Nadu is low. This is especially true at various levels a) articulating electricity related problems faced by consumers and subsequent issues taken up by civil society organizations (CSOs) at the administrative level, b) citizens in effectively presenting their case before the consumer grievance redressal forum (CGRF), c) lack of quality inputs by CSOs in regulatory affairs, d) consumers’ lack of understanding of electricity issues, e) lack of common platform to enable stakeholders to engage in knowledge sharing. CAG has also been engaged in tracking energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) efforts in Tamil Nadu. Our work highlights that most of the EE and RE efforts are operational at the district and village levels e.g. Chief Minister’s Solar Housing schemes. However, CSOs in their area of operation are unaware and are unable to effectively participate to promote the schemes and to highlight the lacuna, if any. The above problems faced by CSOs are primarily due to lack of technical knowledge in the subject area and lack of support from specialized NGOs and electricity experts which will enable them to participate in electricity governance.