electricity consumers

Understanding the different charges when obtaining a new electricity connection

Thu, 13/10/2022 - 15:06

Electricity is such an essential part of our everyday life that we do not consider the effort, both physical and economic, by the distribution utility to supply it to us. These include, but are not limited to, the raw materials that are used to supply electricity (such as wires),the  labour needed to install meters, place underground wires, the transportation of materials needed to undertake the work etc.  These costs are therefore levied as charges by the electricity distribution company on the consumer who wants a new electricity connection to his/her premises.

Prosumer Forum meeting

Fri, 23/09/2022 - 15:28

Citizen Consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) organised a discussion on the “Residential Rooftop Solar Experience in Tamil Nadu: The Prosumer Perspective”, at Madras Management Association (MMA), Chennai on September 3, 2022. The objective of the programme was to bring together residential prosumers to discuss the issues faced while installing Residential Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and to brainstorm possible solutions. Mr K. Vishnu Mohan Rao, Senior Researcher, CAG gave an introduction to the activities of the Electricity Governance team in CAG and explained the purpose of conducting the discussion. He welcomed the participants and gave an overview of the event.


A total of sixteen prosumers participated in the discussion. 

The meeting was inaugurated by Group Captain Vijaykumar (Retd.), Director, Madras Management Association (MMA). He shared his personal experience of installing solar systems in his home and the need for knowledge building within this sector.

The moderator of the meeting Mr D. Suresh, also known as Solar Suresh, opened the discussion explaining the benefits of the installations such as being unaffected by increasing tariffs and having uninterrupted power supply. He also briefly outlined some of the issues that prosumers face during installation and post-installation. 

The following points were discussed by the prosumers:

Technical issues:

The floor opened with a prosumer’s doubts regarding switching off the battery every night.  The moderator and CAG members clarified that the battery can be kept running through the night and that this does not affect the life of the battery. 

The benefits of switching from acid batteries to lithium-ion batteries (which come with around a 25-year warranty) were also discussed. 

The importance of the rooftop structure and bolting of panels was discussed with respect to concerns regarding storms. Mr Suresh stated that his own rooftop system had withstood cyclones like Varadah. He explained that there must be some gaps in the structure to allow free airflow.

There was also a query regarding the method of automating switching between on-grid and off-grid. The discussion indicated that there is currently no clarity on this and that further study is required on the same.

Utility-based issues:

One prosumer described a prolonged struggle to get a net meter from the utility. Instead of a bidirectional meter,  he was given a unidirectional meter.  This issue has not been resolved even after three months of phone calls, visits and letters to the concerned officials. Meanwhile, he has also been paying consumption charges based on his old consumption pattern. He explained that the process of procuring a net meter needs to be made more transparent.  

Most of the prosumers were curious about the net-metering mechanism and wanted more clarity on how it works. The discussion indicated that there are limited field personnel who also frequently switch roles, resulting in a lack of understanding as to how meters are read.  Some prosumers stated that taking pictures of meter readings every month was a good precaution. The new rates for feed-in tariffs were also discussed. 

The general consensus was that the introduction of network charges has made it more expensive to have a grid-connected solar plant. Prosumers who did not have consumption charges are now compelled to pay this added expense.

The utility has not created a prosumer portal to show the export and import of power with the corresponding charges. This is necessary to ensure transparency in data and allow prosumers to check their consumption akin to the utility consumer portal.

In the city, prosumers observed that utility staff were reluctant to learn or support an interested party in installation.  There is a pressing need to sensitise them and ensure that the department functions as a  prosumer-friendly entity.

Developer issues:

There was a discussion on the need for a platform to provide reviews and how this could address difficulties in choosing a reliable developer. For example, one developer had failed to provide a proper inverter to the prosumer. Prosumers also opined that creating a basic checklist can arm a prosumer with the information he/she needs to check the developer’s work.  CAG’s rooftop solar installation guide for Tamil Nadu helps bridge this gap. 

Another prosumer had a query regarding frequent low voltage, with the problem persisting even after checking the connection given by TANGEDCO officials. It was discussed that changing the setting on their inverter can fix this issue; and that this should have been tested by the developer during installation. 



There is a lot of confusion regarding subsidies provided by the Government. Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) has to create a consumer-friendly process for citizens to get these subsidies


The rise of electric vehicles and the need for charging infrastructure that can integrate with solar plants were also discussed.

A subscription model for people who do not have the space or finance to set up their own plant to get solar “biscuits” as done by a start-up in Bangalore was also discussed. This is a great way to provide access to renewable energy to more citizens.


Rooftop solar is still not mainstream because of the complexity that surrounds it; this was elucidated by the various hurdles each prosumer faced during installation. Another important area of discussion was regarding the use of solar in apartment complexes. One of the prosumers installed a rooftop solar plant for common services and was now convincing apartment owners in his apartment to install the same for everyday use. He shared his experience in dealing with the initial scepticism among residents to invest in the plant. He overcame this by explaining and showing the money saved in electricity bills by each flat owner. 

Using renewable energy and promoting the same by helping other people to install residential solar rooftops is the best way to battle climate change and the energy crisis.

Towards the end of the meeting, the prosumers discussed the functioning,  role and objectives of the forum. This forum is for prosumers to share knowledge, discuss issues and ways to resolve them, clarify any doubts, information on new technological advancements, and share updates on policy dealing with residential rooftop solar and any new developments in the field. CAG offered to represent issues on behalf of prosumers to regulator, utility and policymakers as and when required. All the prosumers agreed to create a social media group to engage in such discussions. 

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Smart Plugs

Mon, 23/08/2021 - 17:19

In this era of emerging technologies, electrical and electronic appliances are increasingly becoming an indispensable part of our lives. We all depend on a host of electronic appliances to get us through our day. It is only natural that we often find ourselves looking for smart solutions to optimise the usage of our appliances. The good news is that such smart solutions can now find their way into our homes and that too, on a budget!

Online quiz competition on Electricity Governance, Energy Efficiency, and Renewable Energy (October 2020 - December 2020)

Tue, 20/04/2021 - 08:20

CAG continued with its efforts to promote energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy among school children. After receiving a good response from students for the online quiz competitions conducted between June and December 2020,  Electricity Consumer Cells (ECCs) continued the competitions through the months of January to March 2021 for school students from grades 6 to 12 in Tiruvallur, Cuddalore, Tirunelveli, Salem, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruchirappalli, and Vellore. 

The quiz was divided into a) electricity governance: considering the increasing necessity of electricity in our day-to-day life, it is important to understand how the electricity sector works in the state. b) energy efficiency: avoiding unnecessary consumption, and efficient usage of electricity are also important aspects to be considered. c) renewable energy: an important aspect of sustainable living and the future scope of electricity. 

A total of around 1500 students participated in the quiz. The following chart gives the number of participants from each of the 7 ECC districts.

ECC Quiz

Image 1- number of students participated on quiz

A certificate of participation was issued to all the students, a sample of which is  attached below:

ECC Quiz

Image 2- sample participation certificate

An analysis of  responses given by participants, indicate  that more than 40% of the questions from each topic answered correctly (image 3).

ECC Quiz

Image 3 - Overview of marks scored in each topic 

This reflects that the students have displayed some awareness on the above mentioned topics. While this is encouraging, persistent efforts to increase the awareness levels is necessary. CAG will continue to engage with school children on widening their knowledge on energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy. 

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Current News: Volume VI, Issue 3, March 2021

Thu, 01/04/2021 - 09:59


  • Assessing TANGEDCO’s Compliance to Distribution Standards of Performance (DSOP): An Analysis of RTI Data for the Year 2016 (Part - 9)
  • Bifacial Solar Panels - An Emerging Technology (Part - 2)
  • Tamil Nadu to buy 12,000 buses including 2,000 electric
  • Solar now the Leading Source of Renewable Energy in India: MNRE 
  • South Africa plans 2.6GW renewables drive
  • Consumer Focus - Electricity Ombudsman Order 
  • ECC Voice - Success story

Plus Publications/Regulations:


Online quiz competition on Electricity Governance, Energy Efficiency, and Renewable Energy

Thu, 29/10/2020 - 08:45

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown situation, several schools initiated online classes., Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) undertook an online quiz competition to inculcate interest and enhance knowledge on electricity governance, energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy. Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) also created videos on how the electricity bill is calculated during lockdown period in Tamil Nadu (English and Tamil) and how it used to be calculated before the pandemic (English and Tamil).

The online quiz competitions were held from the month of June to September 2020. They were conducted for school students of grades  6 to 12in Tiruvallur, Cuddalore, Tirunelveli, Salem, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruchirappalli, and Vellore. The competition was organised by the Electricity Consumer Cells (ECCs), an initiative of CAG. 

The quiz was divided into a) Electricity governance: considering the increasing necessity of electricity in our day-to-day life, it is important to understand how the electricity sector works in the state. b) Energy efficiency: avoiding unnecessary consumption, and efficient usage of electricity are also important aspects to be considered. c) Renewable energy: an important aspect of sustainable living and the future scope of electricity. 

Totally around 5,300 students participated in the quiz and the below chart gives the number of participants from each of the 7 ECC districts.


Online quiz blog image 1

Image 1 - No. of students participated in the online quiz competition

A certificate of participation was issued to all the students on their successful participation. A sample certificate of participation is attached below:


Image 2 - Sample certification of participation

From the responses given by the participants, it was found that more than 50% of the questions from each topic were answered correctly (image 3). 


Online quiz blog image 3

Image 3 - Overview of marks scored in each topic 


This reflects that the students have some awareness on the above mentioned topics. While this is encouraging, persistent efforts to increase the awareness levels is necessary. CAG will continue its work to this effect and will add value to the cause through its research and related initiatives. 

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Training Programme at Auroville Consulting

Tue, 21/01/2020 - 09:10

Researchers and ECC Engineers from Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) attended a three-day training programme at Auroville Consulting (AVC) from 16 December 2019 to 18 December 2019. The programme focused on several topics ranging from TN Solar Policy 2019 and rooftop solar installation to e-mobility and smart grid systems. The sessions of the programme were designed and structured in such a way that each of them were supplemented with site visits and expert interactions.

Highlights of the training programme: 

  1. The sessions enabled a hands-on learning experience with site visits to Auroville’s rooftop solar installation, wastewater treatment plant and e-cycles initiative.

  2. The programme provided ample scope to explore the various energy efficient and sustainable practices followed at Auroville.

  3. The sessions were complimented with interactions, discussions and board games that enhanced the learning experience.

  4. The sessions were delivered by experts who presented the topics based on their respective  experience and aurovillian experiments.

Mr.  Toine van Megen delivered the first session of the programme. He presented a detailed analysis of the Tamil Nadu Solar Policy 2019. Following which Mr. Shiv Vembadi presented on the implementation of KUSUM in Tamil Nadu. He explained that an integrated approach ie., combing energy-efficient pumps and advanced irrigation methods will conserve energy as well as water.  

The afternoon session on rooftop solar installation was conducted by Mr. Debabrata Sahoo. He emphasised on the need for solar energy and shared Auroville experiences on stand-alone and grid-connected rooftop solar. He concluded the session with a site visit to the foundation office at Auroville, where 15 kW of rooftop panels have been installed. At the foundation office, he explained each system component of the rooftop solar and emphasised on the importance of site survey.

Image 1: Solar panels installed on the foundation office rooftop

Image 2: Battery store at foundation office


On Day 2 of the training programme, the first session on decentralised wastewater treatment was delivered by Mr. Tency Beatens. He shared his experiences in building wastewater treatment systems and explained the working of the Vortex system at Auroville Centre for Scientific Research (CSR).  These systems are built below the ground level and treat wastewater in a closed environment. Further to eliminate the odour from the wastewater, the vortex system uses a swirling motion and continuous supply of oxygen.

Image 3: Vortex system at the Centre for Scientific Research


The day ended with a visit to Kinisi, Auroville. Kinisi is a unit of Auroville under the Center for Scientific Research Trust which brings electric mobility to all Auroville residents, volunteers and guests. Mr. Debabrata drew attention to the energy wastage resulting from use of different kinds of vehicles and highlighted that Kinisi was started to provide efficient solutions to reduce such energy wastage. Reflecting on the work and journey of Kinisi, the need to switch to electric mobility and its relevance in metro cities were discussed at length.

Image 4: E-cycles at Kinisi

Image 5: Photos displayed at Kinisi


On Day 3 of the training programme began with a visit to the Power Grid Corporation, Pondicherry. Mr. Raghunath, Control Centre Engineer presented a brief on the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) which facilitates monitoring and measurement of consumer information through Smart Meters installed at customer premises. He highlighted that a pilot project was implemented in 2016 where smart meters were installed for 34,000 consumers which include single-phase, three-phase and HT meters. He demonstrated the working of smart meters, manufactured by Dongfang Electronics Co., Ltd, China and explained about the data acquisition and management systems in place. He concluded the session with the challenges faced by them while implementing the project.

Image 6: Discussion with Control Centre Engineer, Raghunath


The subsequent session was focused on the smart street lights installed at Auroville. Mr. Jaswanth, AVC explained about the working of the Smart Street Lights which have been designed to create an overarching digital control system that is based on the concept of Internet of Things, and cloud computing to deliver efficiency to existing street light grids. He highlighted that the street lights have been installed with lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and dimmers. He added that after 11 PM, the lights automatically function at 40% of its brightness. He concluded with a demonstration of how the lights can be controlled and monitored on the web.

Image 7: Mr. Jaswanth explaining the working of smart street lights


The final session of the programme was on Green buildings. Mr. Victor Catrib introduced the green building concept and shared information around the steps to be followed while planning to construct a passive or green building. He explained the concept of the urban heat island effect and elaborated on various Heating Ventilation and Air cooling (HVAC) systems. He further threw light on energy efficient measures that can make a net-zero energy building. He concluded the session with a deep dive into several case studies on green buildings, from around the world. 

Image 8: Mr. Victor Catrib presenting on Green Buildings


The three-day training programme came to a close with a board game designed and developed by AVC. The multi-stakeholder board game enabled the players to approach electricity consumption with long-term strategies to promote energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. 

Overall, the three-day training programme was an interesting learning experience. The sessions were focused on the theoretical, technical, practical and policy aspects of solar energy, passive buildings, electric mobility, and smart grid systems. Each of these sessions were further supplemented with site visits and interactions with proficient personnel working in the respective space. The most interesting aspect of the sessions was that they were based on Aurovillian experiments and experience around the highlighted themes. To have instructors who have walked the talk and speak out of experience was both insightful and inspiring. Above all, it was most beneficial since the environment promoted hands-on learning and encouraged inquisitiveness.


1. Tamil Nadu announced its new Solar Policy in February 2019 which sets an ambitious target of achieving an installed solar generation capacity of 9,000 MW by 2023.

2.  Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan (KUSUM scheme): Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) Scheme for farmers for installation of solar pumps and grid connected solar and other renewable power plants in the country.

3.  A net-zero energy building is a building with zero net energy consumption, i.e. total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site

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